Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The video for the interviews (broken into two parts) is embedded, and "longish," but if you're a fan of the show, you'll most certainly enjoy it. It's obvious the actors realize that they're working on a quality show, and their appreciation and enjoyment is palpable.
Part one can be found here.
Part two can be found here.
Upon hearing this news, USC coach Tim Floyd continued his recent trend and immediately offered a scholarship to the yet to be conceived child of the soon to be married couple.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Every webhead has seen the "Lily Tomlin/David O. Russell Huckabees Freakout" by now.
But the geniuses behind Knocked Up (which I still haven't seen yet, dammit) produced not one, but TWO "pissed off actor" tributes.
First was the Micheal Cera (George Michael!) audition piece. Which was hysterical.
Today, I found out about the James Franco cameo. Which is even funnier, if that's possible.
If you haven't seen these, enjoy.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Look, I'm not a reactionary tree hugger by any means, especially when it comes to sacrificing commerce or convenience for a potentially mythical crisis that really won't impact the planet until long after I'm contributing to the Earth's supply of fertilizer. But I have nothing against tap water, and probably drink far more of that than the bottled stuff. But it seems like Newsome should worry less about tapping water and more about tapping the wife of his best friend and deputy chief of staff.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
NBC Conference room. Sitting at the table is the network head of programming. In walks Mel Torkelson, slightly disheveled genius, to pitch his new idea for a show.
Exec: Mel, good to see you again.
Mel: Good to see you.
Exec: So what have you got for us? What's the pitch?
Mel: Not to start off combative or anything, but I resent the term "pitch."
Exec: But that's what we do here. Surely you know this. We're trying to line up some pilots for the fall season.
Mel: Let's get this straight. I have a great show all mapped out. I came here, to this network, out of respect for how you supported The West Wing. I could have gone to any of the networks, any of the basic cable outfits, or any of the pay cable channels, and they would have given me a two year commitment sight unseen. I'm here to find out exactly how many Emmys you want.
Exec: Late night last night?
Exec: Nevermind. Tell me about the show.
Mel: It's a behind the scenes dramedy.
Exec: Sounds familiar.
Mel: At a late night comedy show. Like SNL.
Exec: We already have one of those in development. With Tina Fey, who was the head writer at SNL.
Mel: But that's a sitcom, isn't it?
Exec: Yes, it is. But it's a single camera, no laugh track deal. Looks very promising.
Mel: But how do you expect to comment on the inner workings of government, the political divides in this country, the struggle of reason against faith, the pursuit of art in the face of commerce and the gripping drama of substance abuse in 30 damned minutes?
Exec: We don't. We're trying to make people laugh.
Mel: Oh. Okay. Sure, that has its place and purpose. But this show will be filled with laughs, too. After all, it's about a comedy show. But it will also enlighten and educate. And bring you more Emmys than you have shelf space for.
Exec: Tell me more.
Mel: The two lead characters will be the head writer and the producer of the show. The writer is a brilliant guy. Bit of a pill popper, but nothing he can't handle. He'll have an on-again, off-again relationship with the lead actress on the show, a gifted comedienne who is sort of his muse. But here's the deal with that. Despite being sexy as all get out and brilliant in her own right, she's a born again Christian conservative. So there's lots of fertile material to play there. She'll try to get everyone to pray, and the cast will look at her like she's crazy. She'll object to the racy or liberal sketches, and basically be a voice for those nuts in flyover country. She's an up and coming star, so she'll be tempted to whore it up in Maxim, but God will talk her out of it. Good stuff. The producer is brilliant director, and concerned with putting the best show on he can, ratings and network notes be damned. And he's got a substance abuse problem. And he's a bit of a stalker.
Exec: Doesn't sound very funny, Mel.
Mel: Are you kidding me? We can play that whole "will they or won't they" game with the writer and his actress out for months. Lots of opportunities for snappy dialogue walking down halls. And the idea of a blonde, sexy, multitalented actress in
Exec: Sounds a lot like Kristen Chen-
Mel: Not it's not. Totally different. My character, Harriet, is taller. Much taller.
Exec: So is she with the writer?
Mel: Yes and no. We won't reveal all this right away, because we'll peel back layers over the onion over time in sidesplitting flashbacks. But in the beginning, the writer was just a staff writer, but obviously brilliant and talented and principled. He'll start to shine as he recognizes his attraction to the actress and she inspires him to write good material for her. But he'll be shy about confessing his feelings for her, and she'll start sleeping with another writer, a hack who was happy when we bombed
Exec: Uh, tell me about the producer.
Mel: Okay, he's best friends with the writer. He's been off directing movies, but gets in a bind when he fails a drug test for his latest flick and can't get insured. So he needs this SNL gig.
Exec: Two drug addicts? Isn't that a little much?
Mel: Have you looked around this fucking town? How do you think people handle the fucking pressure of putting out quality fucking product week after fucking week? This shit is life and death, and Emmys don't grow on trees, ya know. They come out of an eight-ball!
Mel: I was just kidding there. Really, it just adds flavor to the characters, and gives them a chance to struggle with their demons. Actors love this stuff. As do Emmy voters. Anyway, the producer has to constantly fight with meddling network suits who only want to move a few boxes of cereal or some crap, and are always worried about the ratings and ad buys.
Exec: Well, Mel, the ratings and the cereal keep the shows on the air…
Mel: See what I fucking mean? It will be a weekly debate about the purity of art versus the evils of commerce, and the goddamned compromises our heroes are forced to stomach every single goddamned show just to sneak a little enlightenment and insight past the censors and execs. Plus, it's not about total ratings, anyway. What you want is the demo. That college educated, upscale, liberal demo. They buy things. They move the needle. They set the watercooler agenda.
Exec: (Sigh.) What about the sketches?
Mel: What about them?
Exec: Will they be funny?
Mel: Uh, sure. How hard is it to write sketches? Christ on a stick, it's much harder to write soapbox speech after soapbox speech and make it sound like naturalistic dialogue. How difficult is it get a laugh out of a 3 minute sketch?
Exec: Have you actually watched SNL in the last 10 years?
Mel: No, but I read that book about it. And we don't have to actually show any full sketches. We'll just tell the audience that our writer is brilliant and funny, and they'll get it. And besides, we can show parts of sketch, and have the actors do a funny voice or something. The sketches aren't the point, anyway. The drama, and the humor, and the pathos, will come from all the behind the scenes stuff, anyway. We'll have a pregnancy scare in the ER, some shallow whore who wants to put on more reality TV, a bomb scare in the studio, some stupid fucking bloggers who think their opinion matters. There's this bit with an animal wrangler, too, that just kills. And I have this whole long arc worked out about one of the cast's brother getting kidnapped by the Taliban and potentially being beheaded on live TV, and he'll have to struggle with letting our corrupt and incompetent military try to save him, or ponying up millions to let a private K&R firm rescue him, and…
Mel: Kidnap and ransom, moron.
Exec: Yes, Mel, I know what K&R stands for. I'm just wondering what the hell this has to do with a late night sketch comedy show.
Mel: I told you. One of the actors has a brother who enlisted in army. And he was STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF AFGHANISTAN! And he gets captured during a routine mission by these freedom fighters…
Exec: Mel, I'm worried that it strays a little from the central premise.
Mel: Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. Think outside the box. We're commenting on what's happening in the world, using television and this show as a vehicle to say something important. Don't you want this network to stand for something?
Exec: Well, the Law & Orders are getting a little long in the tooth.
Mel: Look. I'm not gonna beg, okay. I realize things got a little hairy toward the end of The West Wing, and I was going through this bad break up with this sexy, illogical zealot who just couldn't see things my way, but I'm all past that now. It won't inform the work we do here. It's a comedy show! Now I need a full season order, or I'm walking out that fucking door to another network and they'll greenlight me in a New York minute.
Exec: But it will be funny, right?
Mel: Funny as hell. And people will identify with and love these characters. And did I mention Emmys?
Exec: Okay, you have a go. We have a great lead in. A new show about superheroes. Looks very promising.
Mel: Superheroes? Is that the crap from the guy who did Crossing fucking
Exec: It's testing well.
Mel: Oh please. Who wants to watch that shit when we've got criminals in the highest office in the land and we're fighting some pointless war over oil?! When mythology believing hypocrites are teaching our kids that dinosaurs didn't exist? When corporations are censoring artists? When a goddamned genius can't get insured to work? When a beautiful, sexy, funny woman breaks up with a brilliant auteur for no good reason? Okay, whatever. Just promise me that when the critics start drooling over my show, the Emmys start piling up and that fluffy superhero nonsense tanks and gets cancelled after four episodes, you'll give us a better lead in.
Exec: We'll do everything we can to bring an audience to Mondays, Mel.
Mel: Great. See you at the Shrine Auditorium in September. And one favor, please. Any pilots with what's her name? Make sure they don't see the light of day. I want that in my contract.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Random observations and comments:
The top 10 is okay, though I still don't find Singin' in the Rain one of our great cinematic achievements. Schindler's List is "important" and extraordinarily crafted, but a tad overrated. And I'm pleased as punch that my favorite Hitchock movie, Vertigo, now takes a rightful place among the greats.
The newly eligible films added were Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, The Sixth Sense, and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Personally, even though it had 27 "endings," I would have put Return of the King on the list instead of Fellowship.
New films added ("older" films, not necessarily from the "newly eligible period") include: The General, Intolerance, Nashville, Sullivan's Travels, Cabaret, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Shawshank Redemption, In The Heat of the Night, All the President's Men, Spartacus, Sunrise, A Night at the Opera, 12 Angry Men, Swing Time, Sophie's Choice, The Last Picture Show, Blade Runner, Toy Story and Do the Right Thing.
Woolf is a classic and informs a lot of what I know about adult relationships, sadly. Great to see Blade Runner get some props, too.
Films dropping out include: Doctor Zhivago, Birth of a Nation, From Here to Eternity, Amadeus, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Third Man, Fantasia, Rebel Without a Cause, Stagecoach, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Manchurian Candidate, An American in Paris, Wuthering Heights, Dances With Wolves, Giant, Mutiny on the Bounty, Frankenstein (1931), Patton, The Jazz Singer, My Fair Lady, A Place in the Sun, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and Fargo.
I know these are hard choices, but the ones I'm really sad to see go are Amadeus, Patton and Fargo.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
On some forums (or sub-forums), they'll have snarky titles for a particular thread. For example, in the Star Trek:TNG forum, they have one called "Where no one has sucked before: Worst Episodes." Or in BSG, the spoiler thread is called "Boomer's a What??!"
The thread for The 4400 was always called "Is this because I'm a scientologist?" (Which was funny enough because of the obvious parallels to The 4400 Centre on the show, but equally amusing when you think of it in terms of Serena from Law and Order).
Anyway, the moderator suggested that a new thread title was needed as the new season kicked off on Sunday, and I offered the following:
The 4400: Original Recipe and Extra Crispy - not just chicken anymore.
The 4400: Turning green with Messiah Envy.
The 4400: Back from the future without a flux capacitor.
The 4400: More or less. We're bad at math.
You really have to watch the show to appreciate those, but one of them was chosen (the last one) as the new thread title. These things change frequently, but it is nice to bring a smile to the face of fellow nerds once in a while.
48. Serenity. I admit it. I can't judge this objectively. I'm totally in the tank, crazy blinders-on in love with Joss Whedon's canceled way too soon masterpiece, Firefly. I adore all the characters, the concept, the acting, the writing – and even though this is indeed a very solid flick on its own merits – I can't see it as a stand alone movie without filtering it through the brilliance of the TV show. So I'll just be happy it was well reviewed and included on this list, and go rewatch it for the 27th time.
47. Donnie Darko. I love subversive, impenetrable cult movies. But for whatever reason, I've still yet to see this one.
45. A Clockwork
44. 12 Monkeys. Great performances from Willis, Stowe and Pitt. Trippy time travel mechanics. A fantastic sci-fi flick that somehow gets underrated. And there's still debate over the role of the lady on the plane at the end.
43. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. I posted on this a couple of weeks ago, but this really "saved" the entire Trek franchise. The director's commentary on this DVD is insightful, and gives you an idea of just how little they had to work with budget-wise after the excesses of the first Trek movie. Doesn't show poorly on the screen, however, and this is one of the high points for the franchise.
39. The Fly. I remember seeing this in college with a buddy, and having to leave the theatre to go smoke at some point I was so creeped out and filled with dread. A rare case of a remake upping the ante and improving in every was (a la The Thing).
36. Blade Runner. You'll start to see more movies here that I referenced in my response to EW's "Top 25 Sci-Fi" list a while back. But the question still remains: Deckard – is he or isn't he?
35. Star Trek First Contact. The best big screen adventure featuring the crew of the Enterprise D (or technically, E at this point. Which is my favorite version of the ship since the original).
34. Forbidden Planet. Before Leslie Nielsen became total camp, a sci-fi take on Shakespeare that holds up well even today.
32. The Matrix. An absolutely perfect sci-fi movie, not diminished by the ridiculousness of the third installment.
29. Ghostbusters. Sci-fi? I guess. Deadpan funny and an ingenious concept.
28. Men in Black. Coasts by on the charm of its leads (and a loopy turn from Vincent D'Onofrio). Entertaining, but I still wish there was more "there" there.
27. Terminator 2 Judgment Day. Upped the stakes, action, effects and performances from the original in every single way.
26. Young Frankenstein. Much like Ghostbusters, I guess it belongs here. Still supremely funny, and definitely requires a shout out for the name of my blog!
23. Sleeper. From the "Golden Age" of humor from the Woodman. A must see.
22. Back to the Future. Sweet, funny and well done.
17. Solaris (1972). I have seen this one, but I still have a problem completely engaging in foreign language films. Soderbergh's remake kept many of the same ideas and themes, yet was (for me, at least) a wee bit more accessible. Along with Eternal Sunshine, this one of my favorite movies to make me ponder the notions of "reality" and "love." Perhaps the most thought-provoking of the sci-fi flicks, from a personal perspective.
13. Galaxy Quest. Note perfect, and loving, send up of Trekkian lore and fandom.
10. Aliens. I can't even begin to ponder how many times I've seen this movie. A pinnacle of achievement in sci-fi and one of my all time top 10 favorite movies (of any genre) ever.
9. Star Wars. The original. Before cable, before DVD, there was only one way to see movies over and over, and that was in the theatre. I still recall the summer it came out, it was almost a daily ritual where Sam and Bettye would just drop me off at the movies to see this flick time and again.
7. Children of Men. I just recently caught this on DVD, and was astounded how good it was. Provocative, engaging and adult. A true gem. Though a world without kids sounds fine and dandy to me.
6. The Empire Strikes Back. Deservedly the highest ranked of the Lucas flicks, a perfectly executed sci-fi "Saturday Serial" adventure, not afraid to end on a less than happy note.
5. Minority Report. Wow. I enjoy this film, and own it on DVD. Yes, it has the Phillip K. Dick pedigree, great action sequences, morally questionable advances in technology, interesting questions about predestination, seamless effects, the usual reliable Spielberg direction and solid performances all around. But number 5 of all time? I don't think so. Plus, once again, Spielberg offers a candy confection cop out at the end.
4. Alien. I love and admire this flick, though I prefer the adrenalized and expanded scope of the sequel. Still, this is the most afraid I've ever been in a theatre.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotted Mind. I've long espoused the virtues of this brilliant gem of a movie. If only such technology really existed. Sigh.
1. ET. Yes, for what the list is, I can understand why this rests at the top. But for my tastes, it's still waaaaay too saccharine and kid-centric. Even more annoying than Lucas's "Greedo shot first" bullshit was Spielberg's removal of the terrorist references and digitally changing the Feds' guns to walkie talkies in the re-release. #1 on the TNRLM list would be Aliens, Wrath of Khan, 2001, Empire Strikes Back or The Matrix.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Random musings and observations from yours truly on 100 - 51:
100. Escape from the Planet of the Apes. A sequel that wasn't afraid to break the template of "same thing, only bigger." Really focused on character, and turns the tables on the original's view of "ape world through human eyes." Also offers an interesting take on how the events of the first film were set in motion, though time travel conundrums make your head hurt.
97. The Thing. I'm surprised this is so low. A truly taut, truly scary film with a knockout Kurt Russell performance and groundbreaking (for their time) special effects. The original, while considered a "classic," featured Marshall Dillon as a giant "carrot."
91. AI Artificial Intelligence. Typically well done Spielberg production, filtered through Kubrick's detached cold. Much debated ending left me feeling it was a saccharine cop out.
90. Death Race 2000. Hysterical, cult, camp classic. The idea of cross country racers plowing through pedestrians for points is a gem. Who hasn't wanted to do that themselves? Ripe for a remake, but only if it retains the spirit of anarchy and black humor.
89. War of the Worlds. Top shelf special effects, and solid performances from Cruise and Dakota Fanning. Another total cop out ending from Spielberg, though. The brother? Really?
88. Flash Gordon. This is better than Escape from the Planet of the Apes? A triumph of design and look, with a bombastic Queen theme song and little else.
87. Return of the Jedi. Disappointing conclusion to the "original" trilogy. Good: Leia in the metal bikini, the Luke/Vader smackdown. Bad: Another Death star? THAT is what Vader looks like? Too much silliness. AWFUL end for Boba Fett (with a fucking burp?). And the less said about Ewoks the better.
86. Starman. Exceptional performances by Karen Allen and especially Jeff Bridges.
85. Innerspace. Interesting concept, but I have never, ever liked Martin Short in anything. Even in the beloved Arrested Development.
84. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Another triumph of mood and production design over actual plot. Really feels like the serials of yore.
83. Signs. Creepy character study undone by the ending. Aliens don't like water, yet come to a planet mostly covered in it? They can travel across space and take over worlds, yet don't get the fucking Weather Channel?
81. The Matrix Reloaded. Made me think that there might be hope for the final installment. Alas, that was not to be.
78. Gattaca. Well written, well acted, and though-provoking.
70. Time After Time. Sparkling performances from the leads and a fun romp through two Victorian tales woven together.
68. The Abyss. Often gets ignored in the James Cameron catalog (when compared to the Terminator movies or Aliens), but shouldn't. Like a lot of sci-fi, it can get a bit heavy-handed with big ideas about how the human race is going to destroy itself, but the performances, plotting and effects are all top shelf.
67. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. A strong return to form for the franchise after the debacle of V. Focus on the characters is nice, and a fitting send off for the original crew of the
66. Escape From
65. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The effects were groundbreaking for the time (1954? Really?) and James Mason was a perfect choice for the brilliant, embittered Captain Nemo. The design of the Nautilus was a triumph that still looks fantastic today.
60. Robocop. Violent, startlingly funny and bitingly satirical.
57. Planet of the Apes. I'm shocked to find this movie so low on the list. One of the first great mind-fuck twist endings of all time and believable make up and performances. A total sci-fi classic.
56. Westworld. Another great concept from Michael Crichton, though as a movie this one has not aged well. But it's still an intriguing story and features Yul Brynner cashing in on his image from The Magnificent Seven. Plus, Gwyneth's mom was really sexy back in the day.
54. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The "lightest" and funniest of the Trek movies, it glides by on the charm and personality of the main cast, even if the central plot device is a little too "Free Willy" for my taste.
53. They Live. Totally unremarkable in my book, but memorable for one of the all time great movie lines, uttered by Rowdy Roddy Piper (?!): "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum."
51. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Astonishing special effects and a darker, grittier tale marred by unbelievably horrid dialogue. This could have been a top 10 or 20 sci-fi flick with some script doctoring to work out the leaden and cardboard banalities coming out of the characters' mouths. Only Ewan McGregor and Ian McDiarmid come close to selling it.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Whatever David Chase had in mind, and whether or not he will ever tell us definitively, it matters not to me. I thought it was a brilliant, thought-provoking ending for a series that consistently refused to tie things up in a neat little bow for the viewer. (Of course, if Lost or Battlestar Galactica pulls this shit I'll be on top of a book depository with a rifle).
Speaking of Lost, someone took snippets from the various seasons to put together a "chronological" view of the events surrounding the plane crash. Cool.
Thank you, Angel, for giving us weekend golfers the incentive to get the fuck off the treadmill, chain smoke a pack of Marlboros, crack open a beer and order a meat lovers pizza, with a side of fried cheese.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Just think if the English imposed the same censorship rules. Alan Rickman and Sean Bean might never work again.
Gungans from the planet Naboo have also lodged a similar protest, but to date, George Lucas has not trimmed any of the Jar Jar Binks scenes from the Star Wars prequels.
Friday, June 15, 2007
I'm ambivalent on the movie. I had extraordinarily low expectations for the first one, and it barely surpassed those, to be mildly entertaining. It didn't tightrope the line between cheese and camp very well, Doom's origin was off from the source material, I didn't buy a blonde, blue-eyed Alba, the dialogue was horrible and at the end of the day, what was the threat? Victor is pissed about his company? He doesn't like Reed, because of stock prices and/or Sue? However, Chris Evans was note perfect as Johnny Storm, and for all the bad dialogue and sometimes sophomoric costuming, Michael Chiklis was a solid Ben Grimm. So, it had its "I'll put it on in the background while I do a crossword puzzle" charms, I guess. And the new one? Of course, the arrival of the Silver Surfer and Galactus are iconic moments in all of comicdom, and I'm not sure I trust the movie's creative team to handle this with dignity, despite the very promising trailers. Might be suited for a margarita fueled matinée.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
BTW, I've broken 5 or 6, depending on which "version" you choose to reference.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Of course, after a certain movie about reptiles and aviation, we could add:
"Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfuckin' Ewoks in this motherfuckin' treehouse!"
Nothing like three days of "hard time" to stir your religious convictions. Of course, there's no better way to demonstrate faith and morality than being a drug-addled, wonky-eyed, vapid, shallow, money-grubbing, uneducated, STD-riddled, manipulative, club-hopping, worn out, perfidious whore.
I would find this wholly unbelievable, if I hadn't already "watched this exact same movie" before.
However, Endeavor, Hilton's agent, doesn't share the same enthusiasm for the open-thighed heiress as does the magical creator of all things.
The folks from Journey certainly got some good press in the aftermath of The Sopranos finale. See interviews with Steve Perry here, Jonathon Cain here and Neal Schon here. It appears only Perry was a spoiler whore, and wanted to know exactly how it ends.
Perhaps we should all go to work to write a pop song that will fit perfectly with the end of Lost or Battlestar Galactica.
Speaking of which, here is what some of TV's top writers thought of the finale.
Monday, June 11, 2007
When the credits rolled in silence suddenly, unexpectedly, after an interminably long black, blank screen, I immediately thought of the ending to another of my favorite shows, Angel. Both ended the same way: our "protagonist," bad news and portends swirling ominously around and seemingly facing "the end," and......The End. Who lives and who dies left up to the viewer for their own interpretation.
(This, of course, was after wondering if a storm took out the satellite dish, if the cat stepped on the remote, or some other bizarre circumstance created the blackout, rather than the storytelling and stylistic choice of a true auteur).
While some in the audience may claim "cop out" and "cheat," I think it was a daring and brilliant way to go out. No matter what happened, is there any way that David Chase could have definitively "closed" the saga? Tony getting whacked by Phil's troops? Tony getting whacked by one of his own? Tony turning to the feds and going into witness protection? Tony ascending to power over both families? Tony witnessing the death of Carm, AJ and/or Meadow? A pull back in that same diner showing the biological family happily eating? Sure, these would have put a bold period at the end of the story, but after the initial shock of no tidy resolution, I think that would have been the easy way out for a show that rarely took that path and more often, mirrored life with its series of crushing heartbreaks, occasional joys and myriad unanswered questions.
Still, despite not knowing Tone's "ultimate" fate, we did see some things in the immediate family:
- Phil is dead, and in a spectacularly brutal fashion. (say "bye bye" indeed).
- Carmela continues to stay afloat in her self delusion, self preservation and state of partial denial, all the while initialing the covenants on her deal with the devil.
- Meadow completes her evolution from spoiled princess to spoiled queen, asserting her egocentric delusion (becoming a lawyer because the authorities mistreated Italian Americans like her dad, at which even T rolled his eyes) over time to essentially become her mother.
- AJ suffers through his existential crisis and depression to become the same privileged douchebag he always was. Rotten, putrid fucking genes indeed. (And how funny was it for him to lament gas guzzling SUVs and the war, only to wind up driving a BMW M3 and being the gopher for a mob backed "porn studio?")
- Janice remains the self-absorbed bitch, just as scarred by the ghost of Livia as Tony.
Of course, we also reached definitive conclusion on a few other items:
- Meadow absolutely cannot parallel park.
- Pauly hates cats.
- Mythical holy figures would have pulled in a lot of money. "One time, at the Bing ... I saw the Virgin Mary," Pauly confides in Tony. "Why didn't you say anything," Tony replies. "Fuck strippers, we coulda had a shrine, sold holy water in gallon jugs, coulda made millions." (Assuming of course, Ralphie didn't object to the virgin birth and beat her to death in the parking lot).
The tension in this episode was palpable and untenable. The multiple shadowy figures in the diner, some of whom could possibly be related to past wrongs commited by members of the "family." Who would have thought that one of the most nerve racking periods in modern television would be comprised of an inept attempt to parallel park and noshing on onion rings? But even those seemingly mundane tasks are loaded with potential metaphor. Was Mead's attempt to park symbolic of her attempt to make peace with and "fit into" the lifestyle championed by Carmela and provided by her father and her soon to be husband's family, so soon after the consequences became alarmingly real with Bobby's death, Sil's coma and hiding in safe houses? Were the onion rings, which we've rarely (if ever) seen on the show, indicative of an "ouroboros?" Does this suggest a return to the nuclear family unit after 8 years of death and mayhem? The children's return to the "nest?" The cycle of life and death? The children becoming their parents? The story, and the family (in both sense of the word) closing in on itself?
With regard to the cycles and the ouroboros, just think about the lyrics to what I'm sure is today's most googled song: Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." There's the "on and on and on and on" part of the lyrics certainly, but click the link and go read them. See if that doesn't ring any bells, particularly the passage beginning with "working hard to get my fill." Also of note: the "b-side" of the Journey song Tony chose in the jukebox was "any way you want it." Is this another directive from Chase leave the ending open to the viewer's interpretation? Some music snobs and faux hipsters may have complained about the choice of song, hoping instead for some bleak Springsteen meditation or obscure critical darling with more elitist cache, but they would have missed the point. The Sopranos would not go out with Arctic Monkey or Coldplay or the White Stripes. Journey, and that song, were a perfect choice for the moment and the absolute best use of an 80s chestnut since "Sister Christian" took on a whole new meaning with Alfred Molina, Mark Wahlberg and the guys in Boogie Nights.
As "open" as the ending was, it resembles Angel in another way, in that there's a strong case to be made that death did come, just moments after the final reel has unspooled. After all, the beginning of the season had a moment with Tony and Bobby on the lake in the boat, on Tony's birthday, meditating on what happens in death. You never hear it coming, they said. Nothing happens, they said. It just goes black, they said. If that's the case, doesn't the abrupt ending breathe life into that theory? Or does it indicate a more "meta" meaning, symbolizing the "death" of the show and the story of The Sopranos, the show? It started small, with a man, his family and some ducks. It then opened up into an epic, operatic tale, reaching backward and forward through generations; commenting on life and death; examining politics, racism, sexism and power -- all filtered through the prism of "family." And then the conclusion slowly closed around the core "family," paralleled ever so brilliantly by the comments of Phil's capo on how Little Italy is now only two blocks and a tourist attraction. Fitting that we end with only Tony and his immediate family, seemingly happy again despite the constricting pressures of their choice and lifestyle, which was truly "Made In America."
However you interpret the finale, one thing is certain. The Sopranos was a grand tale, well told.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Jack McCoy is being promoted to District Attorney. I suggested something similar last month. No word yet on who will become the new Senior ADA. I'm assuming Rubirosa will continue as the ADA. Which is okay with TNRLM, since I like her. (#1 of "available" ADAs, since Angie Harmon has a pilot on another network -- based on the James Patterson books and featuring two former Angel writers on staff! -- and Claire Kincaid is, well, dead). Also, Jeremy Sisto (the entrancingly deranged Billy Chenowith on Six Feet Under) is replacing Milena Govich as one of the detectives.
Isaiah Washington gets the boot from Grey's. It's one thing to say something "offensive" or "politically incorrect." (like Charles Rocket on SNL, for example). But to do it in anger, direct it at someone specific (who is actually of the orientation of the slur, and not do it amusingly like in The 40 Year Old Virgin), get in a fistfight with one of your costars over the whole incident, then use it AGAIN at an awards show, then cop a sad "rehab" excuse, and finally tape a lame PSA -- well, you can't say he didn't have it coming. Then you use a Network quote about getting fired? What a total asshat. I stopped watching the show a while ago, but I can say that of all the unlikeable characters, I hated Burke the most. Well, except for Meredith. Everyone hates that whore.
Speaking of Alias, another friendly face from that show turns up on another good show. Bradley Cooper is joining Nip/Tuck.
Wow. Where was Bobby Baccalieri when I needed him a year or two ago? Perhaps I should have frequented more model train stores. Though I hear those can be dangerous.
Everyone is making predictions about the much-anticipated series finale of The Sopranos, so I'll chip in with a few:
- Tony lives through the finale.
- Paulie has been a traitor, working with Phil Leotardo.
- Paulie gets whacked.
- Phil gets whacked.
Here's an odd link I found the other day (from Pop Candy, I believe) about whistling in rock songs. I always find this annoying, because sadly, I can't whistle. Despite the sexy and simple instructions from a gorgeous Lauren Bacall, I still haven't mastered it.
A wonderfully insightful essay on the "meaning" and "blueprint" of Buffy's season 6 episode, "Flooded." For those into the analytical and philosophical structure of the show, it's a must read.
Johnny Drama for a "Fake Emmy!" And a hilarious "first person" guest column from Drama himself in Variety.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Ahhh yes. The "Dawn" question from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I won't go into a lengthy diatribe or dissertation here, as that subject has been beaten to death in fandom. First, it's nice to see that Buffy (and Angel) even gets mentioned here in the "mainstream" press. I'll say this. I really, really liked the "idea" of Dawn. Dropping in a sister, at the end of Buffy's season opening and amusing confrontation with Dracula, was an inspired stroke of genius. It set in motion a wonderfully high concept plot, and after 4 seasons, gave our favorite slayer something different to play. Michelle Trachtenberg is a talented actress. I even liked how the whole "must be Tuesday" cliche became a joke. My main problem is that the writers scripted Dawn like she was 8 or 9 years old, rather than a legitimate teenager, and rarely gave her any kind of growth (as they did so successfully with all the other teenage characters -- including Buffy, Xander, Willow, Cordy, etc.). And no, whining "kleptomania" is not sufficient character growth.
Also mentioned in the poll is Connor, another "deal breaker" to some from the Whedon camp. Again, I didn't mind the "mystical pregnancy" bit that much in concept. It gave Darla a somewhat "redemptive" conclusion to her story, and Connor's birth in the alley was one of the more poignant highlights of the show. It also set in motion the "Dark Wesley" storyline, which was fantastic and exceptionally played by Alexis Denisoff. Still, I rarely rewatch some of the "baby Connor" episodes, especially the cringe-worthy "Provider." When Connor came back as a teenager, I went with it and there were some great moments that followed (the machinations, even to his last breath, of Holtz; Connor and Faith interacting; the sad conclusion to the whole arc that set up season 5; even Connor's enjoyable return in "Origin" and "Not Fade Away") but the same problem remained that was present with Dawn: the writers couldn't skillfully tread the tightrope between "angsty" / "conflicted" and "petulant" / "annoying." And despite the trippy detour into the Jasmine arc (which had a lot to say about "peace on earth" and what is really "good"), seeing Connor and Cordy get together was still supremely icky (I get it. Charisma Carpenter was knocked up, and in a show like Angel, it was virtually impossible to do the standard sitcom thing of standing behind counters and holding big packages to hide the pregnancy. But that series of episodes just about ruined Cordy as a character before -- thankfully! -- she returned for a fitting capper in "You're Welcome" looking and sounding great).
As for some of the other kids mentioned in the poll, I understand the necessity of Kim Bauer (and her tattered tank top) in Day 1 of 24, but once we got to the "cougar," (and sadly, not related to the euphemism of "hot older chick") and Johnny Drama in the cabin, it was apparent the character had more than run her course. I also sympathize with the need to show the effect of the "Soprano curse" and Tony's "putrid fucking genes" with AJ, but good lord what a douchebag he's been. And cute though she may be with her glasses and lisp, the less said about Luke's "mystery daughter" April and her impact on the plot of Gilmore Girls the better.
Too bad Wesley Crusher started with the show, or else I'm sure he would top this poll. (But to his everlasting credit, Wil Wheaton truly gets it and seems like one of the nicest and more intelligent actors out there. If you're a Trek fan, you owe it to yourself to check out his brilliant and hysterical TNG recaps over on TV Squad).
So, showrunners. Next time you think about pulling a "cousin Oliver," here's a word of advice. DON'T.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
As I've referenced before, it was my dad, Sam, who got me watching The Original Series on grainy UHF syndicated pre-cable repeats, and cultivated my love for all things Trek. We were in line together at the threatre on the first night for the release of all the Trek movies and I'll never forget sitting there at the end of Khan, both of us looking straight ahead, trying to "man up" and not let on that we had a few tears streaming down our cheeks. (In fact, it was only the second time I can recall weeping with Sam, the first being when we watched Brian's Song). Fortunately, Wrath of Khan wasn't the end for Spock, nor for the times Sam and I would enjoy this entertainment legacy passed from generation to generation.
Here is a brief remembrance of the anniversary, along with some links recognizing the date the franchise had new wind blown into its sails.
Live Long and Prosper.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Just too damned funny.
Probably the toughest category to pick. You have The Sopranos. Lost. Veronica Mars. Dexter. Heroes. CSI. House. But I've got to go with Battlestar Galactica, which delivered the most consistent season with a large, and wildly talented, ensemble. Plus, there were no stupefyingly bad final fights, no kids stepping in their own poo nor any eps about how a character got their tattoo.
Contenders include 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, Entourage and My Name is Earl. However, though I was late to the party, I have to choose The Office. (Though it must be noted that no show since Arrested Development made me laugh out loud with greater frequency than the late, lamented Andy Barker PI).
Best Reality Show:
Hard for me to say, since for the most part, I think reality shows are a plague on television. I only watch American Idol for watercooler chat, and because the "reality" of unscripted bullshit is kept to a minimum and I can fast forward through everything except the performances.
Best New Show:
I loved two new shows from NBC that didn't get picked up, nor the buzz (and ratings!) they deserved, Raines and Andy Barker, PI. Shark was an entertaining star vehicle, but I agree that Heroes, despite some hit and miss writing and a lame finale, was the best new show.
Worst New Show:
I try not to watch awful shows, so I can't really say. I don't think I even "sampled" something truly bad. But on sheer reputation, I have to choose that Pussycat Dolls thing, since it championed "whoring sea donkeys" and help put a nail in the coffin of the infinitely superior Veronica Mars.
Wow. This one is rife with possibilities. Heroes. CSI. But I have to kind of agree with them, and choose a tie between Lost (their choice) and Battlestar Galactica. Both took huge risks with their storytelling and were indeed "game changers."
It's hard for me to think of Gaius Baltar as a villain (he's just misunderstood! And he was acquitted!). Tony Soprano is the "star"of his show, and Phil Leotardo is far worse! And who doesn't love Micheal Emerson's indelibly creepy Ben from Lost? Or, you could choose "the writers" on 24 (though I do give them a mulligan and have high hopes for next season). Or "Nielsen families." Still, I have to go with Sylar, from Heroes, anti-climatic throwdown aside.
Heroes Power We Wish We Had:
I'm assuming you can't choose Peter or Sylar, which means that you actually absorb the powers of others (and I don't have much of a taste for "brains," either, so getting them that way would suck). Invisibility, flight and regeneration would be cool also. However, I'd choose Hiro's time travel and teleportation. Just to go back two years and save myself from a horrible mistake would be worth the price of admission. Plus, time travel would be almost the same as precognition -- go forward, find out what's going on, and come back.
Hottest Single Mom:
No contest here. Lorelai Gilmore hands down.
Best Sanjaya Hairstyle:
They are all terrible.
Favorite Investigative Team:
Keith and Veronica. Sniff. We'll miss you, Mars.
Couple We Loved to Love:
I liked Jack and Juliet together, as well as Dexter and Rita. It may be considered "last season," but I adored Rose and The Doctor. Angela and Hodges are great together. However, Marshall and Lily were a funny, well rounded and perfectly suited couple. Congrats.
Couple We Loved to Hate:
Wow. Where to go with this one? I stopped watching Grey's, so I can't legitimately choose George and Izzy. AJ Soprano and the chick he proposed to? Edie and Carlos? Close, but at least it gave two of the show's underrated comic actors something to do. I actually liked Veronica and Piz together. Maybe Starbuck and Apollo? How many couples work out their angst in a boxing ring? I think I'll choose Danny and Jordan from Studio 60. Together, they are just "icky" and even more narcissistic and self-absorbed than the show's other horrifying "couple," Harriet and Matt.
Most Disappointing Show:
24 had an off year, no doubt about it. But no show had such a sterling pedigree and quickly disintegrated into train wreck status faster than Studio 60.
Most Shocking Development:
Holy shit there were several. Yes, Christopher's death was shocking in the way it happened, but quite frankly, I thought Tony would whack him before the season ended anyway. Lost had so many shocking moments it's hard to list them all. However, I have to go with the "Cylon reveal" at the end of Battlestar Galactica.
Coolest Guest Star:
So many to choose from, but how can you ignore George Fucking Takei (Mr. Sulu!) as Hiro's dad?
Meanest Reality Show Judge:
I don't care.
Top Primetime Game Show:
Again, I don't care. They are so dumbed down I can't believe they get ratings. From what I've seen, they make the contestants on the "Celebrity Jeopardy" skits on SNL look brilliant by comparison.
The CW lost Gilmores and canceled Veronica, and renewed the dancing whorefest, so they can suck my cock. ABC has Lost and not much else. Fox has Idol, 24, House and Bones, but canceled Drive (bastards). CBS is strong in the ratings, and pretty much the equivalent of comfort food. USA, HBO and FX are destination channels for me, but not really what the poll counts as "networks." So I'll agree with them on NBC, primarily for the Thursday comedy block, Heroes and the Law and Orders. Plus, they at least tried to some different things (Studio 60, Raines, Andy Barker) and seem to have more patience with quality (though the lack of love for Raines and Barker annoyed me).
Cancelled Show You'll Miss the Most:
Wow. I've already rambled on about Raines and Andy Barker PI. Drive had the potential to be great, and canceling it was the equivalent of infanticide. But without a doubt the show I'll miss the most is Veronica Mars. I simply cannot fathom why more people didn't get this show which had it all: rich, dimensional characters, top shelf performances, solid mysteries, a fantastically drawn "universe" and the best writing and dialogue on TV.
You can vote in their poll here.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Friday, June 1, 2007
Other strange news coming from TVland: David Greenwalt, responsible for helping Joss Whedon create and run Angel, has been tapped to be the showrunner for CBS's shameless Angel rip-off Moonlight. Wha? Huh? Isn't this like getting Gene Roddenberry to produce Lost in Space? Or David Shore to run 3 Lbs? Maybe he'll have the talent to reshape it into something watchable, but right now this just strikes me as all kinds of wrong.
Bad day to wake up as a genre fan.