Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Making soap, shaking martinis, shooting Greedo first and where does he get those wonderful toys?

Here is a GREAT list of the Top 100 fictional role models. (100 - 51 and 50 - 1) I wish I was young and impressionable so I could formulate a life strategy around this. Of course, there wasn't there internet to find these things way back then, and most of these role models hadn't yet been "invented." Sadly, I've wound up more like a bizarre combination of Woody Allen, Scotty Ferguson and Lane Meyer.

Still, there are some great choices here:

Hamlet
Michael Corleone
Dr. Perry Cox
Sawyer
Frank TJ Mackey
Jack Sparrow
Captain James T. Kirk
Keyser Soze
GOB Bluth
The Dude
Butch and Sundance
Jeff Spicoli
Aragorn
John McClane
Shaft (shut yo mouth)
MacGuyver
Dr. Peter Venkman
Martin Q. Blank
Harry Callahan
Jason Bourne
Tyler Durden
Bond. James Bond.
Malcolm Reynolds
Peter Parker
Jules Winfield
Jack Bauer
The Doctor
Snake Plissken
Batman
Dr. Greg House
Han Solo

Just awesome. Some others that could have been included? What about Jean-Luc Picard? Fox Mulder? Eric "Otter" Stratton? Rick Blaine? Gaius Baltar? Rhett Butler? Mike Hammer? Dexter Morgan? William The Bloody? John Crichton? Ty Webb? Jack Burton? Lamont Cranston? Rick Deckard? Doc Savage? Al Swearingen? Stu Redman? HRG? Crash Davis? Who else?

Never trust people who pick up your dry cleaning

Very satisfying resolution to the "who killed the dean" mystery on last night's Veronica Mars. Even more satisfying, since I actually figured out the killer for once. I also liked the fact that it was solved (pretty much) by solid detective work, and didn't feature a "V's in Danger!" faux thrill ride at the end. Her confrontation with slimy TA Tim in the classroom was more Columbo and less Lifetime movie.

I shed nary a tear for the (hopefully painful) demise of the cheating, gold-digging Mindy O'Dell. Felt a little sorry for Landy. Still can't understand the Parker and Logan thing. Liked how dad got the Hemingway reference, while the younguns were stumbling over other possible connections. The switching of the keyboards was a good red herring, and kudos to the gang determining that Botando's fingerprints were on ALL the keys, just not the ones that would have typed the "goodbye cruel world" suicide note.

And the skanky stripper that was Landry's alibi? Tuns out she was a criminal and a liar with no dad for her deliquent offspring? Personally, I find that shocking. Along those lines, we're losing Veronica until April so "America" can find the next "Pussycat Doll?" Instead of wasting several weeks on this tripe, couldn't they just hang out at the same c-store Veronica did? Or just look in random soon to be repossessed cars in Panama City and find the gals leaving their footprints on the inside of the windshield? Or see what's scraped up off the floor of various bars at closing time? Yeesh.

But if they're going away for a few weeks, at least we were left with some decent lines:

"Or, she could have been a down on her luck catholic schoolgirl smuggling cantaloupes in her shirt."

"If you're wondering where I am, I'm hanging around outside of a convenience store eating corn nuts and watching strippers."

"You know I don't like you exposed to all this crime and violence. It's going to warp your mind."

"My name is Miss Crockett and this is my partner, Mr. Tubbs."

"We're on a last name basis now? We skipped over androgynous nicknames?"

"So, like, are they shooting a Motley Crue video here, or..."

"I'm just trying to figure out which Gilmore Girl you are."

"If I'm gonna run red lights with impunity, a red light would be helpful."

"You heading to the parlor to strangle Colonel Mustard after this?"

Whodat?

On a well done Law and Order: CI last night, Logan's friend who was poisoned Alexander Litvinenko style was played by Lee Tergesen. Who you might recall from Rescue Me as Sully, the "perfect" replacement for Tommy (who turned out to have quite the fondness for women's underwear). Or maybe you remember him as Peter, the sex-addict who had a brief fling with Bree in a ludicrous plot from Desperate Housewives.

On Law and Order: SVU, Michael Weston (the subject of a previous Whodat) was Olivia's long lost brother. He's also been "Private Dancer" on Scrubs recently.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yes, it's hard being a "Company Man."

I was going to write this wonderfully eloquent and analytical post about last night's Heroes, which was the best episode of the new series, and right up there with the best hours of television this season (including Lost's two gems, "Not in Portland," and "Flashes Before Your Eyes," BSG's "Exodus, Part II," "Unfinished Business," "Rapture," Doctor Who's "Doomsday," Studio 60's pilot, Veronica Mars' "Poughkeepsie, Tramps and Theives," Bones' "Aliens in a Spaceship" and "The Girl in Suite 2103," Dexter's "Shrink Wrap" and "Born Free," among others).

Key words are "going to," since I've had a long, rotten, trying day and decided to crack open the bottle early. At this rate, I'll probably wind up passed out in my basement in a plate of cheese fries, with my cats eating my hair, by the time we find out whodunnit on tonight's Veronica. (my money's on Tim Foyle. But I'm not counting that as an official prediction. Ya know. Cuz I'm hammered).

Nonetheless, I'll just say that this eppy of Heroes, focusing mainly on HRG and his backstory, was the stuff of legend. The folks (posters) over at TWOP obviously agree, giving this on an average -- average -- of A+ after 1591 votes (as of now). That's almost unheard of. Jack Coleman (one of Dynasty's two "gay Stevens," can you believe that?) knocked it out of the frakkin' park, and Hayden Panetierre proved that she, along with Kristen Bell, is the best "pound for pound" young actress working on TV today. (Mary McDonnell would get my vote for best overall. And Ellen Pompeo obviously weighs less, skewing my "pound for pound" analogy, but doesn't have half the acting talent of Hayden and Kristen. Plus? Meredith is an annoying, whiny whore and I hate her. So there).

Hell, I even found Matt Parkman, freed from the dreary ball and chain of his slutbag trollop of a wife, to be immensely entertaining.

So, not much in the way of insight here boys and girls, I'll just leave you with a few choice quotes:

"How do you feel about paper?" "Very enthusiastic!"

"He's thinking in Japanese." "Why are you thinking in Japanese?!"

"I'm not gonna nuke the dog!"

"Vivisections?"

"If you're not back in an hour, look for the mushroom cloud."

"People are fragile, like teacups."

''I'm comfortable with morally gray''

Monday, February 26, 2007

GodWatch, Part 1

First in an ongoing series of updates regarding the powers and interests of The Almighty.

Evidently, all diseases have been cured, wars have stopped and the crisis in Dafur has been handled, because America's Most Popular Diety (tm) took time out of his busy schedule to ensure that Jennifer Hudson got her revenge on Simon Cowell and won Best Supporting Actress last night at the Oscars.

This, after manipulating the time/space continuum, the NFL draft and causing an egg to be fertilized in the Grossman household a couple of decades ago, leading Tony Dungy to a Super Bowl title.

With omnipotence, all things are possible.

Norma Rae reads Mein Kampf. In space.

Another in a series of "filler" episodes for Battlestar Galactica last night, and this was the best of the bunch. The ABC Afterschool Special topic for the day was labor unrest (and class warfare). The only complaint that I might have about this episode (and some of the others in the "political topics for dummies" series) is that some of the backstory seems to come up on us too quickly. For example, the deep divisions in "class" and societal function of the various 12 colonies. Yes, previously we did get some of the distrust of the Sagitarrons before we were anvilled over the head with it by Senator Kelly, but perhaps not quite enough to fuel an entire episode. Yes, we got the beginnings of Tyrol as Norma Rae back on New Caprica, and that Dualla "married into the aristocracy" of the Adamas (but that seems like a Faustian bargain, given her hubby's fascination with self-destructive Viper jocks that feel responsible for killing his brother). We've also seen the kernels of unrest among the nameless, faceless fleet doing the "dirty work" so our core characters could battle cylons, fuck cylons, marry cylons, fuck each other, lament their childhood, agonize over bad mothers and debate the merits of Jack Bauer style interrogation. So while the strike didn't come out of nowhere exactly, it did seem a bit sudden. However, on the plausibility front, they have been 40 or 50 days without seeing a baseship or raider, so it does seem more likely there might be a tad of complacency on the part of the working class and that this might be the right time (coupled with their ongoing plight, weariness, suffering and frustration) to do something about their working conditions.

If you're going to have a "message of the week" episode (cue starburst and "more you know" music), this is how to do it, then. Have tremendous actors front and center (as usual, excellent work by EJO, McDonnell, Callis and Douglas), have a script that entertainingly mixes meaning and mirth (co-written by the lovely and talented Whedonverse's Jane Espenson), and have it not be TOO heavy handed and one-sided for any point of view.

Other comments and observations from "Dirty Hands:"

One of the female deckhands looked awfully familiar. Whodat? Later it dawned on me that it was Samantha Ferris, who played NTAC boss Nina Jarvis on The 4400.

"You're always welcome in one of my beds." Start the "boom-chicka-wow-wow" music, Bill.

Mary McDonnell just rocks. All of her scenes were electric, and she can go from concerned leader to flirty schoolgirl to political badass in a split second, and you just roll right along with it because she is so frakkin' good. Her reaction to the worker and Baltar's book in the beginning was awesome. Lucky for him, they didn't have an airlock nearby. "Did you say 'the book?' Go ahead, take him away. That's it. Outta here. Gone." An intoxicating mix of shock, outrage, badassery and bemusement.

Great job of making things on the processing ship look suitably gritty.

James Callis was fantastic in his scenes. The "reversion" to the gravelly, cockney-type dialect of Arelon was quite well done. While the class warfare angle did appear a bit suddenly, it's a masterstroke to have Baltar be the one who sows the seeds. After all, when we finally get to the trial, we've got have some sympathy for him in the fleet in order for this complex and crucial character to remain on the show and not just locked away in a cell writing Das Kapital and having imaginary robot sex.

Child labor is bad, y'all. Cally not getting put up against an bulkhead and executed? Worse.

I liked the resolution of "do not negotiate with a terrorist/striker," yet coming to the table to discuss the situation once it was explicitly clear that mutineers would be shot without remorse. Also, will there be ramifications on somewhat cloudy knowledge of how it all unfolded? I mean, does anyone outside the command structure and Tyrol realize that the strike really DIDN'T work, and that it was Norma Rae who wound up caving to save his wife? And Roslin all at once establishes herself a strong leader who won't be frakked with, gets the union on her side and makes Tyrol, an admitted idealist, believe in her vision of a united and better colonial world. Well done, Laura.

Starbuck has only had a couple of moments the last couple of weeks, but it was nice to see them. Last week, it was the chair-slumping smartass in the briefing, this week the R. Lee Ermey of nugget tormenting that we know and love. "Welcome to the club, now wipe that smile off your face because you've earned the right to get chewed out by me. MOVE!"

Good stuff, especially when I thought I would be angered and bored silly. B+

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Big Game my ass

The NFL is going a little overboard on controlling the "intellectual property" of the Super Bowl moniker. Yes, I realize that sponsors pay top dollar for a marketing link to the biggest event of the year. And I completely understand that they don't want every company under the sun using their logo and likenesses without having paid for the privilege. But now there's this?

They want to stop the use of the phrase "the big game?" They want to crack down on retailers that put out a sign that says "stock up on chips and dip for the big game?" I mean, if it was "Get your officially licensed NFL chips for The Super Bowl here, and Roger Goodell will come to your house and mix up some mean french onion dip in Petyon Manning's helmet" I might understand their point. How vigorously are they going to "police" this? Will we be seeing ads about "the huge pigskin contest on Sunday?" Or, as a helpful suggestion, here are some other marketing phrases to describe "the big game:"

The game with the overlong and relentlessly nauseating pre-game shows.

The game with the halftime show that is free from titties now.

The game with increasingly less interesting and creative commercials.

The house that Prince built.

The game with an endless parade of cavity-inducing "human interest" stories instead of real X's and O's.

The game that Marty Schottenheimer has heard about.

The game that turned into "let's slurp Peyton Manning" softcore pornography.

The game that in comparison, makes Studio 60 looked underhyped and overperforming.

The game that the lord god almighty stopped what he was doing, and made Tony Dungy win.

The game where Eugene Robinson goes for blowjobs.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Gold man with a sword covering his junk

The Oscars are Sunday. Unlike the Emmys, where I've probably seen every single thing nominated (with the exception of blight on humanity that is reality TV. Yes, Jordan McDeere is finally right about something), I've only seen a handful of the contenders this year. So rather than offer insightful analysis, I'll just make some predictions*

Best Actor: Forest Whitaker
Best Actress: Helen Mirren
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson
Best Director: Martin Scorcese
Best Picture: Babel

*When you read "prediction" columns on sports, news, entertainment and whatnot, don't you wonder what the "batting average" of the predictor is? Me too. To that end, I'll start keeping track of predictions and post quasi-regular updates on my ability to use my Nostradamus like powers (and a Magic 8 Ball) to foresee the future. In cases where I feel strongly one way or another, I'll qualify opinions from predictions with the old "should win, will win" and track the "will wins" in my handy-dandy spreadsheet.

Speaking of Oscars, Rotten Tomatoes has done a great summary of Oscar Winning Best Pictures, ranked according to published reviews. Check it out. No problem with The Godfather being #1, nor with Casablanca, Godfather II and All About Eve being in the Top 10. Some of the other results are surprising.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Whodat?

Tuesday's Law and Order: SVU had a nice cast of guest stars, including:

Ashley Williams was the trashy mom who wound up hanging herself (strangely, Stabler didn't seem that broken up about it. Just more pissed at the reporter). Ashley's been on a lot of different things, and is a very versatile guest start, but you probably remember her best as Ted's girlfriend (before Robin) on How I Met Your Mother, or as the perky hairdresser on Good Morning Miami.

Kali Rocha was the bitchy reporter. She's also been a frequent guest star across the TV spectrum, but will be (at least to me) forever known as Halfrek, the vengeance demon, from Buffy (and also as Cecily, who may or may not have been Halfrek before taking up work for D'Hoffryn).

The "new sheriff in town" on last night's Lost was Diana Scarwid, probably best known as "no more wire hangers!" Cristina Crawford in the camp-o-licious Mommy Dearest.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Waiter, there's a fly in my soup

Cute article in USA Today's Pop Candy column about characters you hate. Sometimes it's just the characters and the way they are written, sometimes it's the actors portraying them, sometimes it's both.

Here are mine (from current shows):

  1. Meredith Grey, Grey's Anatomy. The only one I can think of who was so profoundly annoying that I deleted the show off my Tivo season pass list. A whiny, ponderous skank who thinks she's all that. Granted, I grew to dislike just about every character on this show, but Meredith leads the hate list.
  2. Julia Mallory, Dirt. I think Laura Harris is attractive. But there's something about her acting that completely rubs me the wrong way. I hate her character here, I hated her character on The 4400 and if wasn't for her making out with her drug dealer on Dirt, I would use the 30 second skip button liberally.
  3. Cally, Battlestar Galactica. I was torn between Helo and Cally, but eventually went with Cally. See my earlier post for just a few reasons why.
  4. Niki, Heroes. Who really gives a shit about the clich├ęd and lame trollop with a heart of gold, just trying to make ends meet for her kid? Ecch. Occasionally, I enjoy Jessica when she gets her ass kicking on, and despite my loathing for the character, I do think Ali Larter does a nice job of switching back and forth between the two personas.
  5. TJ, Gilmore Girls. A totally annoying character whose stupidity is too much to believe, even in the wacky world of Stars Hollow. It's one thing to spew inanity and have an interesting delivery (like, say, Kirk in the same show), but when you couple it with an over the top and grating delivery, it's just cringe-worthy.
  6. Carla, Scrubs. Carla was an amusing, if "second tier funny," member of the cast in the beginning. The last couple of seasons, it's been all seriousness and all about the baby. And dear gods, do I hate babies on my TV.
  7. Janet, Rescue Me. Hot? Yes. Funny in an argument, and just as manipulative and angry as her ex, Tommy Gavin? Yep. Loathsome and more or less unredeemed? Difficult to watch or empathize with? Yeah and Yeah.
  8. Oliva Benson, Law and Order SVU. Nice, sweet and concerned in real life, annoying, sanctimonious and sainted as a character.
  9. Milo, 24. I haven't liked Eric Balfour, his supposed neo-hippness nor his pubic looking facial hair in any of the shows they've tried to foist him upon us.
  10. Casey, Shark. Not sure which one this is? That's because the "remoras," or "sharklettes" have very little written personality. There's the chick with the Sideshow Bob hair, who stares disapprovingly at Shark. There's the smoking hot bitch with the nasally voice, high heels and questionable morals. There was the dude from Stargate who got killed. And then there's Casey, whose only distinguishing characteristic seems to be the look of having a king sized dip of skoal in his lip. I keep looking for a spit cup in every scene.

Dishonorable mention: Catherine from CSI, Martin from Without a Trace, Everyone on Grey's Anatomy, Parker from Veronica Mars, Michelle on Nip/Tuck (she's gone now, hopefully), Wayne Palmer's sister on 24.

Silence of the Lamb. RIP, you magnificent bastard.

Wow. That was a shocker I didn't see coming. I'm referring to last night's Veronica Mars. The episode itself was top notch, but I'm a little sad over the passing of Neptune's resident asshole, Sheriff Lamb. Though the character wasn't exactly likable, he did provide an excellent foil for Keith and Veronica, was entertaining as hell and splendidly portrayed by all around nice guy Michael Muhney. (He's a Browncoat convert!) Plus, his final words were a nice shout-out to M*A*S*H.

It was nice to see a return to form for Logan, emerging from the emo-depths for a scavenger hunt (still. Bumfights!) But Parker is violating one of the sacred rules of friendship by flirting with her friend's ex. (What's the equivalent of "Bros not Hos?" Maybe "Chicks, not dicks?")

Mac gets laid! "And this is what you meant by 'crash?'" "Oh yeah, I meant 'bang.'"

Nice show for the "supporting" cast, and the gang was all here. Lamb, Cliff, Vinnie, Mac, Parker, Wallace, Weevil.

I was also glad to see a bit of the "moral ambiguity" return. Basically, Keith and Veronica helped the coach's son perpetrate insurance fraud.

Great lines:

"I just remembered I need to return Caged Heat to the video store."

"Why is there a pistol in the freezer?"
"There's this guy, see, I wanna put him on ice."
"Revenge is a dish best served cold."
"I wanna commit murder in the 28th degree."

"You told me to go see the wizard and ask him for some guts."
"Did you?"
"Yeah, he told me you were the only sheriff in America who was a true friend of Dorothy."

Can't wait until next week.

Whodat?

The hot lawyer investigating the sexual harrassment suit on Monday's Studio 60 was Kari Matchett, who was the Heidi Fleiss like madame on a recent Shark. She was also Beth, Sharon's kinda girlfriend on the late, lamented Wonderfalls.

On Tuesday's Law and Order Criminal Intent, Goren's mom was Rita Moreno, a Hollywood legend and one of only 12 people to win an Emmy, Tony, Grammy and Oscar. Goren's brother was Tony Goldwyn, best known as the creepy friend/killer from Ghost, the creepy twins/killers from Without A Trace, and the creepy shrink from Dexter. (He's also a frequent director on Dexter). He does subtle creepy very well.

On last Tuesday's Law and Order SVU, Cary Elwes (Princess Bride's Westley) was the mob lawyer dad with the bad accent (and apparently, a recent interest in donuts).

Monday, February 19, 2007

In praise of strong women

Watching BSG last night, I couldn't help but be fascinated with Mary McDonnell's portrayal of Laura Roslin. Here's a woman who has the political responsibility of the colonies (and the survival of the human race!) weighing on her shoulders, and yet she still finds a way to be compelling, compassionate, funny, flirty, strong and intelligent. (Compare that to Adama's leadership style. While he also conveys the stoic and strong and often has to make the tough calls, he rarely lets his guard down around anyone, except Saul occasionally and those "stolen moments" on New Caprica). Plus, Roslin knows how to expediently find the nearest airlock for those who cross her.

Isn't this a bit sexy?

That, and seeing The Exorcism of Emily Rose last week, got me thinking about portrayals of "strong women" on TV and film. Sadly, women are usually portrayed as the victim, the hot babe or the slut, and there seems to be a dearth of roles that don't necessarily fit one of those characterizations while still being sexy. I'm thinking more of characters and actresses that wouldn't necessarily be at the top of an FHM list, nor rely on the traditional conception/perception of their "attractiveness" as an integral part of the role. For example, Lara Croft is supposed to be a very smart, very tough, very capable adventurer, but she's played by Angelina and there's just no getting around the fact that she's an exotic total babe. Or Buffy Summers, who was one of the best written and best acted female lead characters on TV, and was also a serious ass-kicker. Or Sydney Bristow. Great characters, but there's still a more "overt" (for lack of a better word) aspect of their sex appeal.

Here are some examples that bring to mind what I'm talking about:

Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin
Laura Linney as Janet Venable in Primal Fear (tough as nails, a good litigator, razor sharp bob and a chain smoker. How hot is that? Or really, just about anything Laura Linney plays. She's just exceptionally good -- as I mentioned earlier about Emily Rose).
Amanda Tapping as Samantha Carter
Amy Acker as Fred Burkle
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conner
Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully
Annette Benning as Elise Kraft/Sharon Bridger in The Siege
Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Emily Deschanel as Temperance "Bones" Brennan
Holly Hunter as MJ Monahan in Copycat
Gina Torres as Zoe Washburn
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley
Kyra Sedgwick as Brenda Lee Johnson

A little heavy on the "genre" roles, I know. Is that just my geeky sensibilities, or do there just seem to be more of these types of characters in this realm? I'm sure I'm missing some obvious choices, but nonetheless, it's nice to see.

The only president worth celebrating is Laura Roslin

After last week's afterschool special on racism and mutant mischaracterization (and lazy writing), Battlestar Galactica showed a return to form last night. Not a classic episode by any means, but I think it sits well with me given the lowered expectations I had coming off a truly horrible outing plus the soul crushing promise of an hour with Cally and Chief trapped in an airlock.

Fortunately, we didn't spend the entire time with the increasingly annoying Cally. Look, I think Nicki Clyne is cute as a button. And I actually liked Cally in her earlier incarnations as a grease smudged deckhand who joined the fleet to pay for dental school ("I want to be a dentist!"). She was even spunky when she chewed off an ear during an attempted rape, and played Jack Ruby on Boomer 1.0. But for the past year or so she's grown unbelievably whiny and hectoring, and completely oblivious to the peril the fleet faces each and every day, to the point that I can barely distinguish between her dialogue and the mewling infant she usually has around her. Would I have been unhappy if Raptor crew pulled a Bill Buckner and let her just slide off into space? Er, no. Then one day Mookie Wilson and Athena could have shown up at card shows together on New New Caprica.

And I've read conflicting reports on this. The facts generally support the theory that you can survive without a suit in space for a matter of seconds and survive. What's not clear, however, is what happens with the lungs. I was under the impression that you had to exhale and void the lungs of oxygen in such a scenario to avoid complications from the depressurization. Yet other sci-fi shows make it clear that you "hold" your breath or use an oxygen tank. (2001: A Space Odyssey started the original debate). Perhaps I'll check out the Georgia Tech football message boards to get a definitive answer.

Despite the fact that Cally lives to whine another day, the SFX for the rescue attempt were top notch. And though I missed Gaius and the Cylons (get on with the frakkin' trial already!), there were other interesting points:

OBE = Overcome By Events. I instantly thought of another term, FUBAR, and then chief used that about 20 minutes later. Funny.

Mary McDonnell and EJO just rocked the "flirty" scenes with President Roslin and Adama. Clyne's acting seems even more junior high production of "Our Town" when compared to these two heavyweights doing a lot with a little.

Mrs. Adama was played by Lucinda Jenney. Whodat? Recently, she was the small town sheriff on one of the Keppler episodes of CSI, and the mom of the kid who snuck the cocaine into the country on day 3 of 24.

It's interesting that Roslin still holds Lee in such high esteem. Originally, he was the stick up the ass, by the book paragon of virtue. Evidently, Roslin didn't watch "Black Market" or troll the BSG boards to read what people think of the "quadrangle of love."

Maybe it's just me, but if I was working in an airlock and there was the possibility of a leak, I'd pull a Barney Stinson and just "suit up" anyway.

Skiffy's commercials for Fire Serpent. From the mind of The Shat -- starring Xander and Chakotay? So bad it's good, or so bad it's really bad?

As Joss Whedon is to dads, Ronald D Moore appears to be to moms.

Overall, a return to sure footing and a solid B.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Canon: Law and Order ADAs

An ongoing series of lists that provides the definitive order of things in the universe.

For Law and Order junkies, sorting through the revolving door of characters can sometimes be a challenging thing.

Some debates are easy. Lenny is almost universally the favorite cop, if not the favorite character. And I can't think of anyone who prefers Ben Stone to Jack McCoy.

It gets a wee bit complicated when you get to the DAs. Most fans love the exasperated and deadpan Adam Schiff, though I'm in a probably small minority who likes Fred Dalton Thompson's slightly obnoxious, and conservative, Arthur Branch (granted, he's pretty much played the same character in just about everything, including Hunt for Red October and his actual duties in congress -- but hey, I like him). Lewin stunk, no arguments there.

The ADAs, however, inspire the most discussion. You had the more strident and humorless Robinette, who basically got lost in the shuffle because LandO was such a sausage-fest to start out with. (But Richard Brooks had an awesome turn as psychotic and strangely funny bounty hunter Jubal Early on Firefly). You had the feminist and agnostic (yay!) Kincaid who wound up having a fling with McCoy, only to die in a car wreck and deprive us of her perfect bob and beauty mark. Next came Ross (short hair!) with her manipulative and shitty ex-husband and liberal idealism, who eventually became a judge. She was followed by Abby "Hang 'em High" Carmichael, with her Texas drawl and voice like whiskey filtered through a 4 pack a day habit. Next up was Serena Southerlyn, known for perpetrating on viewers one of the biggest "what the fucks?" in TV history: "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" What would pop culture be without that line? I can't figure this one out, because she was decent enough on Angel, but on LandO I've seen driftwood give more eloquent and passionate line readings. Gorgeous eyes and the rare LandO blonde should count for something, but not even the lesbian undertones (oh wait. There weren't any until the last 3 seconds of her final appearance) could save the awful emoting. She gave way to the earthy and more conservative Borgia, who wound up dying in a trunk. Finally, we have Rubirosa, who seems to be more balanced politically and portrayed by a seemingly talented actress, though we haven't yet learned that much about her.

So how do they stack up in my book?

Best Law and Order ADAs:
  1. Abbie Carmichael
  2. Claire Kincaid
  3. Connie Rubirosa
  4. Jaimie Ross
  5. Alexandra Borgia
  6. Paul Robinette
  7. Serena Southerlyn

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Firefly murderers show rare good judgment

Early renewals for both House and Bones. More details here.

House was a no-brainer (though it didn't become huge right off the bat. Thanks to the juggernaut that is American Idol, and lots of deserved attention for Hugh Laurie's performance in the lead, it grew into a consistently top 10 show).

Bones, long ignored by the Fox promo monkeys and moved around, has steadily grown into respectable ratings success, and among the most entertaining and character-driven of the procedurals.

Though I will never forgive Fox for killing Firefly, it will be interesting to see what they do with Drive.

Hail to the (fictional) Chief

Just in time for President's Day, a fun TV quiz regarding the oval office.

Sadly, I only scored 5.

On a related note, on another blog there was a political discussion about "which camp" Libertarians should go with (of the "big 2"). Slim pickings for those of us who believe in lower taxes AND personal freedoms, I tell ya. However, a solution late in the comments seemed to work: Magnum and Higgins in '08!

Crack dealers revise fall sales forecasts

Could this be true? With Bill Parcells reportedly joining ESPN, there are rumors that the Pipemaker could be on his way out. My TV tingled with excitement, and caretakers of the English Language rejoiced. (However, purveyors of ties with goiter-sized knots were admittedly despondent).

This reminds me of a lovely little scenario:

Bluto: What the fuck happened to the Delta I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer...
Otter:
Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.

Bluto:
We're just the guys to do it.

D-Day:
Let's do it.

Bluto: LET'S DO IT!


Just replace "Wormer" with "Sterling Sharpe," "Marmalard" with "Irvin," and "Niedermeyer" with "Shannon Sharpe" and my Sunday TV viewing would indeed be a place of joy, happiness, grammar and coherence again.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Two Face, Stumpy Hotties, Santa and Morons Not Watching

Entertainment Tidbits from around the interwebs:

What the fuck is wrong with you people?
These last two episodes have been fantastic.

Yet another solid choice. Personally, I thought Batman Begins was the best film I saw last year (along with Serenity and Thank You for Smoking). Nice, since the new Harvey Dent was in the latter film. Christopher Nolan is one of those directors who can simply do no wrong. (The Prestige, along with The Departed and Casino Royale, was among the best films of '06).

So who will "sing" the soundtrack?

A new Grindhouse Trailer. As expected, it kicks ass.

CSI last night featured The Mayor (see previous "Whodat"). We also learned that Hodges named his cat "Mr. K," for Kobayashi Maru. Nice.

The only good thing about X-Mas may be coming back. Who can forget these heartfelt holiday sentiments:

Kid: Your beard's not real.
Willie: No Shit!It was real, but I got sick and all the hair fell out.

Kid: How come?

Willie: I loved a woman who wasn't clean.

Kid: Mrs. Santa?

Willie: No it was her sister.

Whodat?

On last night's CSI, the brother of the intended victim of the Miniature Killer was the wonderful Harry Groener -- Buffy's best villain, Mayor Richard Wilkins.

To Do List:
Greet Scouts
Reschedule lumber union
Call temp agency
Become invincible
Meeting with PTA
Get Haircut


Geeks would also recall him as from the Star Trek TNG episode "Tin Man."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sports Shorts

While I was out drinking whiskey, considering predestination, looking at cans of paint that have a "future" label, wondering why "Cluck's Chicken" would advertise on a soccer game, googling "namaste," listening to Oasis and considering that a Hobbit may die, some interesting things happened in Sports:

Tim Hardaway won't be going to any Clay Aiken concerts.

One down, one to go! Closed captioning typists and language experts rejoice!

Well, I thought the other one was gonna go, but dammit, it's just an addition. Closed captioning typists consider self-immolation.

Napa evidently will fly your car to the moon.

Thank Zeus and Hera. The insanity has stopped.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Canon: Top Aborted Shows

An ongoing series of lists that provides the definitive order of things in the universe.

There's almost nothing worse (except maybe living in a world where Florida has national championships in the two major collegiate sports) that becoming addicted to a new TV show and having it canceled right in front of your eyes.

"Choosing" new shows to follow each year has long been a pasttime in the Clarke household. When I was a kid, we'd eagerly wait to get the TV Guide Fall Preview and then individually highlight the shows each of us wanted to watch. Since this was in the days before Tivo (Dark Ages! Healing with leeches!), we then negotiated who had "rights" to the big TV and who would be relegated to the bedroom or upstairs tube in the case of scheduling conflicts on the "big 3" networks. With Tivo and 1,623 channels and pretty much year round programming, it's much easier to "sample" new shows and discard them if they fail to live up to their potential. Plus, having so many quality shows scattered across the multiple networks makes the loss of one easier to live with than back in day.

That said, in the last few years there have been a number of shows that have been killed long before their time. For the purposes of this exercise, I'll consider shows debuting since 2000 that didn't make it past one year (Arrested Development was obviously exterminated way too soon, but at least we got 3 seasons out of it).

The Top 8 Aborted Shows

  1. Firefly
  2. Wonderfalls
  3. Karen Sisco
  4. The Tick
  5. Eyes
  6. The Inside
  7. Lucky
  8. Touching Evil

Anagram Hallucinations, Charming Nosiness and Good Ass Bad Ass

Catching up on some recent television happenings.

Monday's Studio 60 was the first in a long time where I didn't spend 44 minutes groaning and rolling my eyes back in my head at the wasted potential and heavy handed lecturing. I still don't buy Jordan and Danny. And it suffered a distinct lack of Jack Rudolph. And why didn't Danny, of all people, realize Matt was high? Still, while it wasn't The Sixth Sense, I did enjoy the "Tim Batale" (gee, what could that be an anagram for?) bit and seeing the "genesis" of the Matt and Harry relationship. Some attractions and relationships just seem to thrive on controversy and arguments (of course, I wouldn't know anything about this). Also, the head writer in the flashbacks was Stephen Tobolowsky – perhaps best known as "Ned... Ryerson. "Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"? BING!" from Groundhog Day. (also, a mini-Deadwood reunion with Sarah Paulson – Hugo Jarry and Miss Issringhausen, respectively). Good episode, but probably too little, too late, sadly, unless Sorkin has pictures of Jeff Zucker freebasing with teenage girls. Given Sorkin's past, that's probably a lot of photo albums to sort through, though.

Another solid, if not quite as quippy, Veronica Mars. The cliffhanger was unexpected, and it was good to see (however briefly) Cliff and Wallace. Dick never fails as a source of amusement: "Volcanic Hot. Like I might have to use an oven mitt to feel her up." Nice to see the love for Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. A specialty of VM is calling back bit players for the days of yore, like Arturo, the pizza delivery mugger and Jeff Ratner, the "toiletry thief." I think the tweener that charmed Logan was one of Gaby's beauty pageant recruits from Desperate Housewives. I normally hate kids on TV, but she served the purpose for the story and wasn't too obnoxious. Other good lines:

"Which one's yours?"

"I would have settled for 'I find her nosiness charming.'"

"Who was that on the phone?" "Just your brother in law."

Finally, a Gilmore Girls that seemed like a return to form. The dog funeral was perfectly in character, and Zack's apprehension over playing Celine Dion was great. Chris has always been an ass, and I don't envy the writers of this season given what they had to work with after the ending that got dumped on them at the end of last season. Though they tried to clean up his character during the courting and engagement phase, the cardboard nature of the characterization still holds true after we found him basically twirling a mustache the last few episodes. Even if Chris is a poorly written ass, I do completely understand his issues with Lorelai's feelings for Luke. Probably owing a lot to my post about the Green Eyed Monster yesterday. But whether the emotion is right or wrong, the plot in this story bears out that his concerns were justified. And Lauren Graham never nominated for an Emmy? Shame.

On the other hand, we had a "good" ass last night on House. The hackneyed melodrama of the Tritter debacle behind us, we got back to solid medical mysteries leavened with a script full of snarky House-isms. Too many to jot down, in fact, but there were these:

"They killed our lord! You gonna trust 'em?"

"Coulda left the scarf at home and just told him you'd be wearing a look of desperation."

"Girls can't hold me too long because I can only pay for an hour."

"She's gonna jump off the lobby balcony!" "You think I can catch her?"

"Seems a lot nicer than that one from wicca-needs-a-daddy-figure dot com."

Funny conversation about wanting to "torture" the girl to see how she reacts. Fox must have had a "human drilling" theme week planned for sweeps. In fact, if they really wanted to torture her, they should have just invited network buddy Jack Bauer over. I'm sure they would have gotten a resounding "hey, I'll handle this. Let me get my bag with painful drugs, sharp sticks and dry cleaning bags and we'll get to the bottom of this in just a few minutes. Won't be as much fun if we're not related, but still…"

Gruesome head drilling I can live with. Pulling out a 25 foot tapeworm? Uh, no.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Legal implications of eating entire cans of frosting with your fingers?

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is suing over complications from a gastric bypass surgery.

Strangely, the suit mentions "nerve damage," "internal bleeding" and "near death experience." However, it doesn't mention the fact that he's still fucking FAT.

The Green Eyed Monster

I was reading the latest Veronica Mars recap over at TWOP, and there was an interesting aside. A while ago, they published a fascinating and insightful interview with series creator Rob Thomas. Great stuff, if you're a fan of the show. In this week's recap, they reference a tidbit that was withheld from the interview (it was published before last week's revelation about Logan and Madison). The full portion is in the recap, but here's a part of it:

The interesting thing in my mind is that Veronica and Logan have been broken up for six weeks when [Logan and Madison's hookup] happens. It's a fleeting thing one night when they're drunk in Aspen together. Veronica can't get past that. This gets into a whole debate we have in the writers' room. There is a contingent, of which [producer] Diane [Ruggiero] and I are a part who experience this overpowering sexual jealousy, the kind so nicely illustrated in Chasing Amy: "I can't get past what you did when we weren't together." It's something that I've struggled with in my life -- I'm interested in that phenomenon. There are others, like John Enbom, who don't really get it: "Why are you jealous of something that happened when you weren't in a committed relationship with someone?" Fair enough, that's a logical response, but emotions, for those of us who aren't Vulcan, aren't dictated by logic. I'm certainly not proud of my own jealousy, nor is Veronica proud of hers, though I find hers much more excusable. She's seen so much unfaithfulness. She does everything she can to protect her own heart. She hates being vulnerable. On a side note, I eventually got over mine. Not sure whether to ascribe it to years of therapy or finding the right person.

One of the wonderful things that "art" does (whether it's a song, a show, a movie, a book, poetry, etc.) is make us think about things in our own life in a different way, or examine our own situation, beliefs or experiences through the prism of fictional characters. TV "shippers" tend to blow right past the analysis and get to the result. "LoVe 4-ever!" "Dump his ass!" "They were on a break!" But, if you write (and act) truly rounded and embodied characters (like Veronica, BSG, The Sopranos, Dexter and a few others), the dramatic identification process is a lot more complex than that.

The reference to Chasing Amy is not lost on me. Besides being one of my absolute favorite movies, it's also an emotional, witty and oh-so true to life examination of the things that slowly but surely creep into a relationship. And different people handle those different ways. How much do you examine, obsess over, consider, judge and react to things that happened to your significant other in the "past?" And what exactly is the "past?" A few months, as in Veronica's case? Many years, as in Holden's case? On some level, most adults rationally know that what's happened in the past or while "we were on a break" shouldn't necessarily impact the present and the future. But relationships are rarely rational; the situations we all face are usually less cut and dried. Neither school of thought should be considered empirically "right" or "wrong," should they? On one hand, in the fictional worlds of the ViewAskewniverse or Neptune, I empathize with Logan and Alyssa. Logically (like a Vulcan, as Thomas suggests above), what happens outside the "boundaries" of the relationship shouldn't matter. But on a primal, emotional and all too real level for me, I'm right there with Holden and Veronica. (In fact, I think I even referenced the experience I had with nightmares and visions, when I posted my "morning after" reaction to last week's show). I've got friends who could easily fall into the latter category and yet don't, and manage to handle things with grace and maturity I can't even understand, much less emulate. But my psyche doesn't exactly work that way, despite repeated psychological and chemical attempts to rewire it. Of course, my fairly recent experience in this arena wasn't exactly analogous to Amy or Veronica. There were the incidents in the past, and behavior of a "vaginally sociable and commercial" nature. But there were also a lot of hypocritical, deceitful, manipulative and morally questionable incidents in the present, too, that I was just too stupid to see (which became particularly apparent in the post-mortem).

Perhaps a lot of it can be attributed to that old joke about "don't think about a pink elephant." Maybe there are just people, like Dawgs and Gators, that shouldn't be together (though I have a set of friends who disprove that theorem). Maybe it's in the way that the person with the past chooses to approach the present. Maybe honesty isn't always the best policy. Maybe it's in the way that people "judge" and embody that judgment, or are able to compartmentalize. Or maybe it's just simply better to be a Vulcan. Live Long and Prosper, y'all!

Whether or not there are any magic solutions, or "right" answers, it does make for compelling drama.

Yoda made Sexy Rexy throw horrible passes

Thought provoking article here on whether or not Tony Dungy should stick to coaching. Football, that is.

I'll offer the same disclaimers as Telander does. Dungy is a good man. A good coach, that didn't get a fair shake in Tampa Bay. His players love him. You won't find him at a drive through with his pants down in the middle of the night. A man of integrity and morals. Great winning percentage, and consistently puts a quality product on the field. Suffered a horrible tragedy with dignity and class.

And "celebrity" is a double-edged sword. Yes, there is the upside of being in the public eye: money, lifestyle, security, power. And the downside: invasion of privacy, public scrutiny, increased pressure. Along with "celebrity" also comes a public platform, and do some people "cross the line" with how they use a public platform? I guess it really depends on what message, unrelated to the performance of the job you're getting paid for, is comprised of.

If you denounce psychiatry, jump on a couch and give your money to a "religion" that believes we're all spirits left over from the detonation of a hydrogen bomb by an evil galactic ruler named Xenu, then you're a certifiable nutjob and your box office suffers accordingly.

If you say that an all knowing, all seeing higher power who magically created everything in the universe, raised the dead, talked through flaming shrubbery and performed unbelievable and supernatural acts on every street corner (but only when there were no cameras yet invented, nor any other means of substantiation) actually "affected" the outcome of a freaking football game -- while there are wars going on, natural disasters occurring -- then you're praised as a great man and a role model.

And no one ever critically or logically analyzes the underlying similarity and implausibility between both sets of ridiculously impossible and unproven "beliefs."

Not that I'm giving up part of my income to become a high level Thetan, mind you. It just strikes me as odd when one nutjob whose life revolves around an obviously fantastical and unproven mythology gets shunned and scorned, and another gets lauded.

It's disconcerting that my beloved alma mater has the same issue with its coach. By all accounts, Mark Richt is a wonderful, warm and giving human being. A successful coach responsible for resurrecting (in the provable, believable sense of the word) a program that had fallen from "grace." But he, too, wears his beliefs on his sleeve and incorporates his spirituality into his recruiting and coaching.

At some point, this is going to become an issue either in the pros or in the college ranks. How does one of these narrow minded zealots handle it when a player believes as firmly in their gobbledegook, and prosthelytizes it as much, as their coach does? When will a recruit get away, or when will there be a fracture in a professional locker room when a player sings the praises of the Koran, the Torah or Battlefield Earth?

Would Dungy still be "going to Disneyworld" if at the post game trophy presentation he had said:

"I'd like to thank Zeus and Hera for helping us stay calm after Devin Hester ran that kick back."

"Yoda was obviously with us as we picked off Grossman in the second half. Peyton showed a lot of midichlorians and was able to put the game away. May the Force be with you."

"Lovie and I both believe the Flying Spaghetti Monster orchestrated the outcome of this game and are happy that both sides gave their all. He's a good man and I have no doubt the Bears will get another chance again soon."

"Clearly, Xenu was displeased with Grossman's preparation for the game, and he didn't come into that second half 'clear.' But with enough auditing, I'm sure he'll bounce back."

He would have been pelted with fruit, heckled off the stage and laughed out of the league.

So why is one set of circumstances, and inclusion in one cult, more acceptable than another?

Frak Yeah!

Good news, y'all. So say we all.

Would Jack Bauer be more believable invisible?

Last night, I watched the joy ride that is the Monday "double feature" of 24 and Heroes. With the Tivo dual tuner set up, you could switch back and forth and avoid commercials entirely. However, doing this causes some serious disruption to the time/space continuum of both shows. I found myself trying to impose the "real time" format to Heroes occasionally. For example, how did Matt get to the airport in 2 minutes? How did Claire get to the trailer park in 5 minutes? Slightly confusing, but then I realized that 24, within its own "real time" constraints also has some leaps of credulity. Okay, it's not like this is exactly news, but still:

Helicopters fly across just nuked LA in one minute?
Morris recovers from being drilled in just a few minutes, and can then go back to work? That CTU medical staff can work wonders!
How about Milo uploading the entire contents of a laptop in 10 minutes? And in those same 10 minutes, analyzing the whole laptop and then finding a "fragment" of a message from a crazy Russian nationalist? Who has ever tried to find an old message in Outlook on your own PC? If you're looking for a message that you wrote, on your own (non-damaged) PC, that probably wasn't in Arabic nor encoded, didn't it take you more than 10 minutes? And that's assuming that there's some superpowered "remote" data pipeline in the safe house apartments or one of those remarkable CTU vans that allows you to instantly upload an entire laptop? Doesn't downloading a "patch" for Windows take half the fucking day, even on DSL?

That said, 24 was very entertaining last night. Keifer's scenes reacting to the death of his brother were outstanding. Tom's freak out before (almost) resigning and Bauer dad's chilling threats were also among the highlights. And I don't care that she almost got Jack blown up to save her (and possibly Jack's?) son, Rena Sofer is gorgeous. Beautiful eyes. I know she's a notorious "show killer" (and when she was paired with Eric Balfour, I was expecting Fox to break into the show and just cancel it on the spot), but hopefully after this and her recurring stint on Heroes as Nathan's wife, she'll be around for a while and creep further up my Top 10 list.

I'm also beginning to think that the CTU tactical teams should go ahead and just start wearing "red shirts."

Speaking of Trek, there were several (more) Trekkian moments on Heroes, too. Hiro's vulcan salute and "I come in peace!" "Thanks for the help, Sulu!" before punching out poor Hiro. And last night's ep was directed by B'lanna Torres (Voyager's Roxann Dawson).

Last night was also about the first time I think I liked Matt and the skank Niki.

Though we didn't "see" the invisible man last night, while I was wondering about leaps of faith in the 24 timeline I also considered exactly how Claude's powers of invisibility work. He can turn invisible, but also turn his clothes invisible? And anything he touches (pretzels, purses, etc.) also turns invisible? For how long? What about when he puts it down? Then why doesn't the lampost or table or door or anything he touches turn invisible, too? Or does he simply "think about" the specific things that are supposed to be invisible? Does he have to continue to think about the pretzel after he eats it while it's digesting? How exactly does this work? And then Peter, who can absorb powers, turns invisible when he touches Claude? And can stay invisible when he's in "close proximity" to Claude? After all, he "flew" after being around Nathan and read minds when being around Matt. How long do his "absorbed" powers last? After all, he healed long after Claire left when he got his ass kicked by Sylar. But when Claude was "testing him" last week during the purse snatching, he instantly reappeared and became visible the second Claude pushed him aside. Okay, I know. It's a TV show. Just go with the flow. But does anyone else worry about this stuff?

Whodat? from Heroes, in addition to the B'lanna directing credit:

The shady chick manipulating poor Hiro and Ando was Missy Pyle. Known for (among other things) being the alien chick that falls for Tony Shaloub in the underrated Galaxy Quest, Alexandra in Josie & they Pussycats (the band "Du Jour" still cracks me up) and the East German chick in Dodgeball.
Hotel guy (who turns out to be a federal agent) was Bill Fagerbakke -- Dauber in Coach and Tom Cullen (M - o - o - n!) in The Stand.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Robots in the Time of Cholera

Wow. Last night's Battlestar Galactica was bad. I think I've only uttered that phrase once before in three years, and that was about the muddled "Black Market." And similar to that one, this one also had a talented guest star (Bruce Davison -- BM's was Bill Duke). While BM was an incoherent take on "noir," with out of character revelations and behavior, this was just a pedantic After School Special. Did you know racism is bad, y'all?

Amid the heavy handedness and falling anvils, there were at least a few decent moments:

The reappearance of ChipGauis. And Roslin noticing Caprica talking to herself (ChipGaius) and even kissing "him."

Pretty much everything Saul Motherfucking Tigh did or said. "That's because they're a bunch of stubborn, root-sucking jackasses holding onto traditions that are a thousand years old." Bring it, Saul. And after getting punched in the face by Saint Helo, "you better have the doc look at that hand."

Doc Cottle.

One of the few decent lines: "There's a trick to being human -- think only about yourself." Gods know I've been with a few humans, then.

Also funny were the promos for "Hollow Man II." Is that what gets Christian Slater in the Monday Night Football booth? And judging by the content of Joe Theismann's comments, wouldn't that make two "hollow men" in the booth then?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Whodat?

The minister's wife (the ex-hooker, hypocrite and oh yeah, the murderer) on Friday's Law & Order was Julie Benz (Rita from Dexter; Darla from Buffy and Angel).

Psych had Michael Weston (guy who robbed and freaked out David on Six Feet Under) as the defense attorney. The judge was Doc Cottle from BSG (Donnelly Rhodes -- who was also Dutch on SOAP!)

Monk had Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives Carlos Solis) as the "bambalachi" growing killer. And Brooke Adams (Shaloub's real life wife) as the flirty sheriff. Randy's farmhand was also the manager from the Major League movies.

Monk knows his Mary Jane?

On last night's Monk, Adrian helps Disher find out why his uncle was killed on the old family farm. Turns out, Desperate Housewives Carlos Solis (Ricardo Chavira) was the culprit, trying to hide his crop of marijuana. In a hysterical scene, Monk confronts the bad guy about his illicit crop, and rambles on about other names for it:

Fields of reefer
Ditchweed
Boo
The Old Ali Baba
Magic Dragon
Bambalachi
Yellow Submarine
Black Bart
Dr. Giggles
Kentucky Blue
Railroad Weed
Devil's Parsley
Skunk
Splim
Splam
Mooster
Side Salad

As funny as the list itself is, the delivery was even better. Who knew?

The Dude and Gandhi have words of enlightenment for you



Behold a delightful clip from Sexy Beast that for some reason amuses me. (really -- Jim Broadbent from Iris won best supporting actor over this? I bet he never used the term "spunkbubble" in his performance). While it is funny, I really don't think I would ask his character if there was a problem with the plan.

Despite the colorful tirade in Sexy Beast, it doesn't come close in the list of films that most frequently use the word "fuck." How do I know this? Do I have a "fuckometer" hooked up to my home theatre that counts these things for me? Why no. That's the joy of these here interwebs, where you can find out anything! Here is a handy list for die hard fuck-o-philes.

Even more hysterical about that list? By clicking at the top of the column header, you can organize the list by "total fuck count" OR by "FPM." (That, of course, would be "Fuck Per Minute").

While one of my favorite movies (and it should be one of yours, if it's not already) is a bit down the list (in total, or by FPM), some intrepid soul has gone to the effort to edit The Big Lebowski into a concise, "fuckable" version. Enjoy:

Friday, February 9, 2007

Football Announcer Ratings

At the end of each year, Sports Illustrated veteran Dr. Z offers his analysis and grading of the NFL broadcast crews. Even though Z can be a bit of a cranky curmudgeon and get obsessed with certain aspects of the performance (understandable: correct down and distance. too much: identifying all the nuances of interior line play), I generally find his insight accurate and in line with what I've observed. And though I don't keep detailed notes on the broadcast crews, god knows I've watched them all enough times to form an opinion. In addition to being a huge NFL fan with Sunday Ticket and a journalism major, I also find myself watching otherwise horrible games just for pure fantasy football value (I had Andre Johnson on my team this year, so I regularly subjected myself to Texans games. Whiskey sales in Georgia responded accordingly). I'll post my thoughts on the teams as organized in Z's column.

ESPN: Nessler, Jaworski and Vermeil
Yep, it was only one game. And yep, it was a great one. Vermeil's subsequent appearance on NFL Network was marred by a case of laryngitis (and Bryant Gumbel), but this was the best crew I witnessed all season. Nessler is a vastly underrated talent, and brings the proper mix of technical proficiency and enthusiasm to a game. As an analyst, Jaws has no peer, and Vermeil is sharp and the relationship with the former player and coach shows an easy camaraderie. A+

Cris Colinsworth
Z lists him separately here, which makes sense given his multiple roles across the proverbial dial. Colinsworth paired with an even competent play by play guy would automatically elevate him to an A+. Paired with Gumbel, the team falls to a D purely on the basis of the worst play by play calls EVER. On HBO and NBC as the studio guy, Colinsworth brings more organization than the other former jocks, matches wits with Costas and still offers technically solid insight. On a game call, he brings the right mix of enjoyment of the game, outstanding game analysis, actual humor and fan's perspective enthusiasm. Hard for me to give some props to a former Gator, but he's just about the best around and I'd be happy to see more of him on my TV. Standing alone on his own merits, Colinsworth gets an A+.

CBS Eagle and Wilcots
Eagle (whose name sounds like the secret identity of a superhero) is a talented, under the radar play by play guy, and Wilcots' work improves every year. B

FOX Rosen and Ryan
Solid and detail oriented. Ryan doesn't make as many key observations as I expect from the analyst role, but Rosen is dependable and makes even the biggest stinker of a game sound interesting without overblown hyperbole. B

FOX Albert and Baldinger
Nothing wrong with this pairing. Baldinger does good work as the analyst and Albert is smooth and professional. B

NBC Madden and Michaels
Like your mom's Thanksgiving meals, this team is comfortable and expected. They've been scrutinized to death, so I won't add much here. They still have the "gravitas" to make a game seem important, and Madden as always has the touch of appealing to the general fan while occasionally pointing out something technical. They still fall way too in love with "the stars" (cough, Favre, cough) and follow preprogrammed story lines, however. B

CBS Nantz and Simms
Nantz is confident and capable and doesn't seem as egocentric as others with his pedigree (like Michaels). I know he's forced to read a gazillion lame promos for other CBS shows, but for some reason, the fake enthusiasm he musters for those rubs me the wrong way and takes away from the "real" enthusiasm he shows for the game at hand. Simms tries too hard to convey some "aw shucks" folksiness, and often repeats the same point ad naseum, without putting a new twist on it. Both are prone to star pimping and beating the preordained storyline. B

CBS Buck and Aikman
Buck's approach can at times be a little hectoring and holier than thou, and then at times be a little smartassed and smirking. But he generally keeps the telecast moving and his glib funnies are actually funny more times than not. Aikman is earnest, hard working and gets more right than he misses. B

FOX Harlan and Gannon
Kevin Harlan usually hits the details and tells a good story, which is good. Gannon comes across unsure of himself and bored by the action. Harlan still has a lot of unnecessary overinflection but they're okay. B-

CBS Stockton, Johnston and Siragusa
As for Siragusa, there's been nothing more useless since the appendix. Stockton is another old pro who nicely balances story, details and calling the action on the field, though he also occasionally misses the players involved. Johnston is unobjectionable, but seems to favor more "vanilla" points to bring out as opposed to someone like Colinsworth. B-

NFL Network Faulk and Sanders
Z liked these guys when pressed into duty following Vermeil's loss of voice. Personally, I would have rather listened to Vermeil aspirate into an oxygen mask. On the upside, they masked Gumbel's incompetence for a half, and did occasionally make salient observations about coverage and reads. On the downside, there was still too much "schtick" from Deion and shoddy elocution from both. C+

CBS Enberg and Cross
Enberg is a legend in the business and covered a variety of sports with class and dignity. His voice signifies "big time" and he's a pros pro who gives his partner room to operate. However, sadly, he still misses a lot of calls on down and distance, misidentifies players and isn't as sharp as he once was. Cross is a pompous blowhard who phones it in. C+

CBS Gumbel (Greg) and Dierdorf
The best thing I can say about Gumbel is that he's definitely not his brother. Nothing else to see here, move along. These are not the droids you're looking for. C+

Fox Pitts and ?
Z points out that Pitts was teamed a few different folks this year, and also moved from analyst to play by play. He also has an unnatural love for Pitts that I just don't understand. I liked him slightly better as an analyst than as a play by play guy, but when I hear him on the channel I almost immediately being to nod off. There's a big difference between a minimalist, "breathing space" approach (a la classic Summerall) and somnambulate. C-

CBS Johnson and Tasker
You would think being an all world (and deservedly Hall of Fame, if they cared about it) special teams player would give Tasker more insight into the smaller details of special teams play and all the "little things" that occur away from the spotlight. It might, but he rarely shares that perspective with us. And Johnson would sound like he's having a heart attack after a 40 espresso and bag of crank bender watching bingo at the local VFW. C-

ESPN Tirico, Theismann, Kornheiser
Another group that's been analyzed to death. There are the obvious (and valid) complaints about the ridiculous in-booth interviews. (Christian Fucking Slater? Unless he's there to announce "Heathers 2," there's really no reason). And this type of mindless drivel gets in the way of Tirico's calls. One year into this experiment is probably too early to make a final call, too, but I felt like I was watching a train wreck.

I know that Theismann understands football. On other platforms, I've heard him make cogent points and demonstrate knowledge of the game. On game calls, however (and not only here, but on his former Sunday night gig), he comes across as a touchy know it all. There is zero chemistry with Kornheiser, and he emphatically makes points that are flat out wrong. Tries to make definitive statements too often. Bottom line is that he's just not likeable.

As for Kornheiser, as someone who enjoyed the Dennis Miller experiment, I appreciate the attempts to inject the broadcast with something different. I loved TK's radio show and watch (and enjoy) PTI daily. He's got the sharp wit and skills to make this work. But it's not showing up here with great enough frequency. His opening monolgues are eloquent, if gravitating to storylines that are all too obvious. But we don't want to hear constant updates on his fantasy team and he pulls back on the criticism and biting comments all too often.

If this is going to work, they need to: stop the celebrity slurp fests that offer nothing to the game. Short of replacing Theismann (with Jaworski), he needs to dial back the grating, definitive declarations and break down the plays more. And Tony needs to loosen up and go for broke and remind people why PTI is one of the best shows on ESPN. Overall: C-

NFL Network Bryant Gumbel
Arrogant, inaccurate and simply not suited to the task at hand. Quoting myself from my old blog:

Bryant Gumbel is perhaps the worst play by play guy ever. Solid journalist, though a bit pompous. But his voice is like high pitched harp smoke alarm thrown in a blender, and he absolutely MUST "qualify" every statement. Example: "Vick rolls, right, throws perhaps a bit high, Jenkins possibly comes down with the catch, makes a move on the defensive back, could have stepped out of bounds, comes back to the center of the field, toward what we think is the first down marker, and may have picked up a fresh set of downs for the team I believe to be the Falcons. But we'll just have to see, and then I hope we can verify this information, and conceivably we can move on to the next play, and perchance the Cowboys will remain on D." Simply Awful. F


Not related to the game coverage itself, but if these talent-free and language-mangling "broadcasters" vanished from television permanently I would be a very happy camper: Shannon Sharpe, Michael Irvin, Steve Young, Terry Bradshaw.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Whodat?

Three great guest stars on last night's Lost:

Juliet's husband who didn't "miss the bus" was Ed Danvers from Homicide. (Guest star extraordinaire, Zeljko Ivankek, who was also on 24, Oz, Law & Order, Bones and Shark).

Juliet's sister was Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert, from Deadwood). The producers, like everyone else in the world should, must love some Deadwood women. Joannie Stubbs (Kim Dickens) was Sawyer's con partner Cassidy and mother of his child (?), and Trixie (Paula Malcomson) was Colleen, Danny's wife who got shot by Sun.

Mittelos (anagram for "lost time") Bioscience recruiter, Dr. Alpert, was BatManuel (Nestor Carbonell, from the way too short lived The Tick). If they can create bus accidents at will, I think I'll interview with them soon. Check your area papers for the results.

And "strange things are afoot" on the porn bus! Last night's Bones featured sleazy video producer Monte Gold portrayed by Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter). Also, zany alien Harry Solomon from 3rd Rock from the Sun (French Stewart) was the sleazy preacher guy who followed around the bus of drunken, exhibitionist nubiles. Hard to recognize him with his eyes open. (And see, Veronica Mars, the preachers are always sleazy, hypocritical and guilty!).

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Lust in Space

Okay, by now surely everyone's heard the story about the wacky astronaut who set off on a cross country "trek" to vanquish her rival for a fellow astronaut's affections.

Sure, people - even smart and successful people - can become unhinged and do ridiculous things in the name of love. Or fall for the wrong person. But let's leave that aside for a moment, and look at her plan.

She wore adult diapers to the confrontation so she wouldn't have to stop for bathroom breaks.
We took some road trips in college, where there were coolers full of beer in the car, and never once did this idea cross my mind. Does it really take that long to stop and take care of business? Could you not just leave 15 minutes early to account for stopping at Stuckey's? (you don't have to shop for bird feeders or pick up a pecan roll, ya know). Isn't that preferable to pissing yourself for 900 miles? Was this part of her pre-killing ritual? Maybe this was the "fuel" to psych herself up for the big event. Lord knows driving 15 hours across country sitting in your own piss and shit would make you kind of cranky upon arrival.

She put on a wig and trenchcoat.
She doesn't think a wig and trenchcoat looks a wee bit suspicious? In Orlando? Does she think she's master of disguise, Gene Parmesan?

Her cache of weapons.
In addition to the Bobby Valentine disguise and a pantsload of poop, they also found her with the following: pepper spray, a BB-gun, a new steel mallet, knife and rubber tubing. Okay, maybe Jack Bauer or MacGyver could save the world with this assortment, but huh? Was she gonna pull a Vinnie Barbarino and "up her nose with a rubber hose?" Tie her up with the tubing, then "tenderize" her with the mallet, adding a little pepper spray for flavoring? Put her eye out at x-mas? She had on a diaper, after all, didn't she have time to stop by Tank Johnson's house to stock up right?

I can't tell if this is the worst "evil plot" since Scooby-Doo, or the dumbest thing involving astronauts since the remake of Lost in Space ("hey, Dr. Smith, how you doin'?").

The Morning After is no Tramp

I kinda enjoyed last night's Veronica Mars, "There's Got to be a Morning After Pill," though not nearly as much as last week's chuckle filled "Poughkeepsie, Tramps and Thieves."

The mystery of the week wasn't too obvious, but since when is the televangelist NOT the bad guy? C'mon, let's have at least a little realism, folks.

It was nice to see Weevil back to being Weevil, but I can certainly do without Emo Logan. He was much better and funnier when he was organizing bum fights.

What's with all the license plate attention lately? Still, that can't compare to Monday's Heroes (see below).

I don't blame Veronica for her nightmares and visualizations. Hard to bleach that stuff out of your head. Lord knows I went through that when I spent a year with Columbus's answer to Courtney Love (well, Courtney Love without the moderation, morals, class and parenting skills).

And she didn't crush the car? After the uplifting homilies from the evangelical moron? V, don't you know that revenge is a dish best served cold? And crushed into a small cube?

Despite being a letdown from last week, there were a few amusing moments:

The Nancy Drew and Hester aliases.

"I feel like you've got this wadded up Maxim magazine where your heart is supposed to be."

"The rebound starts with me? Nice."

"You do your hair like that to cover up the three sixes on your scalp, right?"

"It must be a liberating thing not to be cursed with a moral compass." (again, personal flashbacks to last year for me. Argh).

"If we're not going to have an empty sexual encounter, I've got stuff to do."

"Bonnie's a preachers daughter? How very Footloose."

"Harassing women in crisis since 1973!''

Overall, B-

Studio 60 Math

Calling your fledgling writer an "Uncle Tom" + telling him that he's obsessed with white people, while also offering the handy tip that "writing rules" = makes it all better.

Stalking someone just short of getting tasered + getting trapped on a roof + magic tricks = Twue Wub.

Getting a business associate's daughter drunk off her ass + namecalling = hail mary business deal (of course, I still actually like Jack).

Lying about the sitcom contrivances of blowing off a date + making sure your intended sweetie knows her pay grade place = date for Sunday!

Live snakes + (anything) = no good.

Insulting your date on her night + obsessing about who she's sleeping with (or wanting to sleep with) + inability to tell a joke (not to mention write a decent one that we've actually seen) + flirting drunkenly with Pussycat Doll skank = relationship finally over (hey, at least one of 'em, other than the snakes, of course, felt real).

It's only the great affection I feel for the actors (Perry, Weber, Paulson, Busfield and Davis in particular) and one character (Jack) that keeps me from formulating another equation: Occasionally witty dialogue + likeable actors – believable situations + contrived circumstances + hamfisted moral/political lectures masquerading as conversations + beyond silly romantic entanglements = delete from Season Pass.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Do you stop at QuikTrip for Dilithium crystals?

Last night on Heroes, Hiro had a confrontation with his dad (played by George Takei -- Mr. Sulu!).

Did anyone else notice the license plate on Mr. Nakimora's limo?

NCC1701

No truth to the rumor that it was a rent-a-limo from Enterprise.

Yep, I'm a geek.

Monday, February 5, 2007

See if you can draw all of Jack's tattoos

Okay, it isn't really that difficult, but here is a quiz that purports to be the "Hardest Lost Quiz Ever."

I got 80%.

The Canon: Super Bowl Commercials

An ongoing series of lists that provides the definitive order of things in the universe.

Overall, a very, very lackluster crop of Super Bowl ads last night. Only a few really stood out, entertained or made me chuckle.

Here's what USA Today's annual round up of ad rankings had to say
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I'm not completely in tune with how America rated them (go figure) with regard to the best ads. After all, one of my favorites -- the Garmin GPS ad that featured a note-perfect take on a cheesy "Ultra Man" like hero fighting the "paper map monster" -- ranked in the bottom. I guess there weren't too many fans of Ultra Man watching last night. That's a shame, because that shit was hysterical.

My take?

Best Super Bowl Ads:

  1. Bud Light Rock, Paper, Scissors
  2. Budweiser Clydesdales and "dirty" dog as dalmatian
  3. Garmin "Ultra Man" spoof
  4. GM "sad robot"
  5. Bud Light scary hitchhiker
  6. Emerald Nuts Robert Goulet as office gremlin

And though it wasn't a true commercial for a product, special kudos to David Letterman and Oprah watching the game.

Super Bowl XLI: Prince was even better than Peyton

Highlights and lowlights from yesterday's Super Bowl XLI.

My prediction didn't seem that far off. I must admit, after the first 5 minutes, I was wondering if I had stepped too far onto the "logic" bandwagon.

Peyton Manning played well enough to win. Good for him. Now that monkey will have to find someplace else to live.

Rex Grossman played just as poorly as everyone expected him to. To paraphrase Dennis Green "He is what we thought he was!" Now the big question will be, what to do with him? Truth be told, he hasn't started that many games, despite his years in the league. But if I was a die hard Bears fan, that wouldn't exactly fill me with confidence.

According to noted bible thumper Tony Dungy, god played a role in getting the team though adversity and reaching the pinnacle of their sport. Surely, this was at the top of his list. After all, it rained, and god must have bet the under. As for visiting a plague upon your enemies, Rex Grossman has to be up there with boils, locusts, frogs and diseased livestock. (And Shannon Sharpe, for TV viewers).

Speaking of which, I'm still waiting for Sharpe to say something intelligible. The rest of the broadcast was well handled. Nothing spectacular, but nothing egregiously wrong, either (excluding Sharpe, of course). CBS did allow James Brown to talk over a cheering crowd from Baghdad, but that's about it for glitches. I usually completely tune out the fluffy, sappy pre-game fair, but did notice something else. Katie Couric's story on Hines Ward (can't knock a truly nice guy, great player and Bulldog getting some props) would have seemed relevant, oh, say, a year ago? When it happened? And when his team was in the Super Bowl?

I usually don't watch Criminal Minds, but I did enjoy the nifty transition from the post-game to the show. The pre-fab Nantz and Simms piece had to have been filmed before, and it was eerily on target with their talk of "turnovers" playing a role (not exactly a stretch, but it did work). And Tony Dungy probably wasn't happy with the plot, with Dawson and his FiveHead paying a little too much attention to his religious upbringing. (maybe if god hadn't been paying attention to getting the Colts a Vince Lombardi trophy and winning the "under" bet, he could have made sure the Beek didn't go on a killing spree).

I'll address the ads in a separate post, but the highlight of the entire coverage? That would be The Purple One, Prince, peforming The. Best. Halftime. Show. Ever. Except for the Aunt Jemima headgear and Dolphins inspired wardrobe, the halftime show simply rocked. Hard. First, it's great when a true artist, who actually writes songs, plays instruments and sings, performs live and doesn't lip synch. But to do it in a rainshower? Without getting electrocuted? And without controversy (as opposed to "Controversy," which would have been cool, too)? The song choices were fantastic. Opening with "Let's Go Crazy" and then a combo of "Baby I'm a Star" (one of my favorite Prince songs) and "Proud Mary?" Then throw in some Hendrix, screaming (and again, "real" and "live") guitar, A Foo Fighters cover and end with Purple Rain -- while it's raining? Simply spectacular. Oh sure, it's hard to beat "Up With People" or Michael Jackson with 3,500 kids (Super Bowl memento - free restraining orders!), but his royal badness totally delivered the goods.