Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Did Frank Sinatra star in "Booty Call?" (Idol Top 5)

Here we are with "Rat Pack" night on Idol, and once again, the theme is interpreted "loosely," as not all the songs were explicitly performed by Frank, Dean or Sammy (or fortunately, by Joey Bishop or Peter Lawford). But I love this night on Idol, no matter if they call it "swing" or "great American songbook" or "standards." Call me old fashioned, but if I had to be trapped on a desert island with only one genre of music, this would be it. So how did the Idolettes do?

Before we start, a few thoughts:
  • Wow, it was nice of Simon to wear his "formal" black t shirt.
  • Allison looks great, and not like she was auditioning for the inevitable Jetsons remake by way of Pretty in Pink.
  • Jamie Foxx as the surprise mentor? Not in time to save The Soloist, I'm afraid. And I can't decide whether or not I actually like him. He gives some very good performances, but he seems like a raging, self-absorbed egomaniac. And he's tied to the stylings of the Chairman and gang how? Because he sings and acts, too?
  • Don't the Top 5 usually perform two songs? Has the production become such an off schedule trainwreck that they can't work in two performances each? Certainly the theme would allow for a depth and breadth of choices.

Kris leads off with "The Way You Look Tonight." He starts like usually does, kinda somnambulent, then hits an awful falsetto note and finally picks it up for the end. Not great, not terrible, and he does his usual, low key thing. I guess he isn’t trying to be in the “Throat Olympics?” 7

Allison will do "Someone to Watch Over Me." How can you not love that performance? Will it win over people who thought she was "too rock?" She was emotional and mature and in great voice. She's definitely got the pipes to continue, and I hope Amercia picks up on that this week. I see what Simon is saying about her stage presence, but I like her humility and lack of braying narcissism. 8.5

Matt comes out with "My Funny Valentine." Just okay for me. Little breathy. He sounds like Matt always does, trying to throw in some R&B and little vocal runs, mainly to mask his inability to stay continuously on pitch. Not crazy about this one. 5

Danny is performing "Come Rain or Come Shine." Why is Jamie Foxx "up in his grill?" What does Michael Mann have to do with the Rat Pack? At first, it sounds like he was drowned out a bit by the band. But the tempo picks up, Danny does the song in strong voice, and has the "right" amount of swagger, without overdoing it. He sounds good singing these types of songs. 8

Adam gets the pimp slot, and as you might expect, doesn't let us down, with "Feeling Good." I LOVE this song. Awesome. There's a little bit of everything in there. Theatrical and over the top? Yep. Entertaining and powerful? Yep. A glory note to break glass, deafen canines and bring the crowd to its feet? Yep. And Kara, who is extra cleavagy and coherent tonight, put it thusly: "Confusing shocking sleazy superb way over the top I like you." 9

TNRLM TOP 2: Adam, Allison

TNRLM BOTTOM 2: Matt, Kris

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Desmond goes motorboatin'

In a strange story to come out over the weekend, Henry Ian Cusick, who plays Desmond on Lost, has been named as a defendant in a sexual battery and harassment claim.

It's odd in that the purported incident happened almost two years ago, in October of 2007.

Cusick is married with three kids, and if true, the story could have some significant impact on the show:
  • Des is the central romantic figure on the show, and his star crossed relationship with Penny (talk about motorboatin'!) is at the crux of the show's mythology. This kind of squicky off camera behavior could color how we view that relationship, and the character. (Though Rob Lowe just went through a similar lawsuit, and it doesn't appear to have hurt his career or relationship with ABC. And Alec Baldwin leaves lovely messages for his kid, and still makes us laugh our asses off on 30 Rock, so who knows?)
  • The producers have shown little tolerance for actor shenanigans (cough*Libby*cough*Anna Lucia*cough). Could they get rid of Desmond, when the season finale has already been filmed and plotlines set in motion for the final season? Or, putting on the conspiracy theorist hat, could Darlton have already known this was coming, and adjusted the plot to take into account, gasp, the fact that Des might not be long for this world?
  • Whether he stays or goes, there's no doubt Des is supposed to play a central role in how things develop, given the fact that he is Daniel's "constant," and, according to Dan, a wild card in all the time travel and future shaping events.
Interesting, and potentially disturbing, news indeed.

If I was him, I'd just go back in time and make sure there was no ass grabbin' in the production trailer.

Surely Dan wrote that down in his notebook. ("talk to Chang about rabbits.....what's with Charlotte's nosebleeds?.....Jughead is a bomb, oh shit....always keep tie on.......make sure Widmore pays bills for coma girl....hire nurse for future....whatever happened, happened, but maybe not......what year was Charlotte born? I can never keep that straight.....young Eloise is hot, but she's my mom. That's kinda weird. Would would McFly do? jumpsuits are slimming....tell Naomi to "watch her back"......Desmond Hume is my to him about that motorboating thing.....)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dammit, Jim, it's a BlackBerry, not a Tricorder.

Nerd that I am, I recently adopted the pattern below as the wallpaper for my phone.

I also have patterns like that in blue and red, but frankly, I'm a little afraid to use the red one. Either the phone or I might die within 44 minutes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bubble Watch

It's that time of the year when TV show renewals are in the air, and that brings the dreaded "bubble watch."

Because the great unwashed masses are generally too dumb or inattentive to appreciate quality work, or because of the limited broad appeal of genre fare, many of the shows I wind up loving often face the damned bubble. Fortunately, some of my most loved shows are already guaranteed (or almost a lock for) a place on the schedule next year, such as Lost, Supernatural, Fringe and Big Bang Theory (among 50+ others with a place of honor among my Season Passes). Others aren't so lucky:

How it would hurt if these shows were cancelled:

Gaping, sucking chest wound; punctured eyeballs; followed by being set on fire:
  • Chuck (The most charming show on TV. A little bit of everything: espionage, laughs, romance, intrigue, action. Go buy a Subway sub on Monday!)
  • Dollhouse (Like most of Joss's shows, this is really hitting its stride as it gets deeper into the mythology and characterizations. Been nuthin' but AWESOME since "Man on the Street.")
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Is there no room on TV for intelligent, well written sci-fi?)

Compound fracture of the tibia:
  • Castle (A cut above the usual procedural with likable characters and charisma to burn).
  • Reaper (wandering and amiable, but holding its own against the Idol juggernaut. The addition of Nina and Morgan has helped, Ben is a deadpan master, and Ray Wise's Devil is Emmy worthy).
  • Party Down (Really funny, with distinct characters and an offbeat tone).

Vicious punch to the solar plexus:
  • Better Off Ted (Why isn't this fantastical workplace sitcom, which never fails to make me laugh, getting more attention?)
  • The Unusuals (Another cop show, sure, but at least it's trying something different).
  • Law & Order (I've been with it from the beginning, and this current cast is fantastic and the best since the glory days).
  • Lie to Me (Unique premise that's held up better than I thought it would thus far. Tim Roth and Kelli Williams are great, and Jennifer Beals showed up last night as Roth's ex-wife. Good stuff).

  • Samantha Who (Yeah, it's kind of slight, but Christina Applegate is a fantastic comic actress).
  • My Name is Earl (Even when it aims and misses, Earl has a great top to bottom cast who can handle anything from farce to heartwarming).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

That's not quite how I remember the 70s - Disco Night, Idol Top 7 (again)

Hey, we’re back with 7 contestants, just like last week! Only this time, the gimmicky “judges’ save” is gone, and two of these folks are packing their bags tomorrow. I don’t mind the concept of the “save,” and it mixes up the formula a bit. It was also a bit like showing a gun in the first act, in that if they have this save, and didn’t use it at some point, all the critics would jump all over the show for a failed “innovation.” So they had to use it, and it was either last week, with a fairly likable and competent performer, or let it stretch to this week, when they would have to use it or lose it (and who knows who the designated castoff would be?). They might regret it if one of their favorites is in danger this week. Anyway, if that means I get to hear 7 disco songs this week instead of 6, then hell yes, I’m all for it, because I LOVE DISCO. There, I said it. I’ve never pretended to be a tragic music hipster, who looks down his nose at any music that was ever popular. I grew up in this era, and both my parents adored the genre and played it all the time. So I’m really looking forward tonight. And as a bonus, I’m sure we won’t get stuck with 7 Bryan Adams songs, or the continuing onslaught of treacly, sappy ballads that this crowd seems to gravitate toward. How the hell can you be boring and downtempo on fucking disco night? Let’s get funky, babies.

Lil bats leadoff with “I’m Every Woman.” (And who started the stylistic convention where you quote AND capitalize every word in a TV episode or song? Annoying when you’ve been drinking). On the surface, this would seem to be a good song choice for her, but through the first half of the song, all I can hear is the band and the backup singers. The ongoing debate between Lil and the judges had been for her to do some R&B “diva” songs, and this certainly qualifies (Chaka KHAN!), but that was just a lackluster performance of a good tune. She seemed more concerned with the “come ons!” to the audience and the big notes, and never quite grasped the melody or pitch. I’m sure she’ll argue about it with our cast of four (thank Zeus it’s not the 2+2 travesty of last week), but it’s an argument she won’t win. And Ryan gives her the chance to! Unbelievable, and she’s wrong-headedly defiant to the end. Mercifully for her, and us, this should be her last week. 4

Anyone else think that Angels & Demons looks interesting? I read the Dan Brown books, and while they weren’t Faulkner, they were page turning airplane pulp reading. I thought the first book (that this movie is based upon) was the better of the two. And Tom Hanks went to Great Clips.

Here we have Kris, who will be doing “She Works Hard for the Money.” Which I always remember Donna Summer performing with a guitar. Kris thinks it has a “good message,” about a hard working woman. So are we talking about a waitress, or a hooker here? They both, I guess, serve up a slice of pie. I can’t wait to hear his earnest, coffeehouse version of “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” He does a really different, and interesting, arrangement that has bongos and a Caribbean flavor to it. Very smooth and heartfelt. It doesn’t satisfy my jones for 100% pure uncut disco, but all in all, a unique take on the song, a good vocal and a good performance. 8

Gokey will be performing “September.” Did his wife die in September, or did Earth, Wind and Fire not do a song about a dead spouse? He was in fine vocal form on this one, even if the band/backup overwhelmed him at times, and he toned down the Taylor Hicks spasmodic seizure dancing. He was on pitch and energetic, and I liked that one. 7

Allison is dipping into the Donna Summer well again, turning “Hot Stuff” into a slow building rocker. Not your traditional take on the tune, but it showcases what the little powerhouse can bring. Great vocal on the song, full of smoky timbre and attitude, and right in her wheelhouse. It felt like a slightly more upbeat “Black Velvet.” Very nice. 8

The unquestioned frontrunner, Adam, is up next with “If I Can’t Have You,” another of my favorite disco tracks from back in the day. He keeps with the theme of the night, turning our mirror ball, bell bottomed favorites into something entirely different, this time, a plaintive torch song. He gets the hurt, sensitive yearning part of the song, and also picks up and wails on it. It’s a sincere, brilliant performance. The judges fall all over themselves (as they should), and Adam even manages to win further brownie points for humility by giving a shout out to the arranger. Just fantastic. 9

Matt, freshly saved from last week, will be giving us “Staying Alive.” He tosses the classic disco arrangement with his usual Timberfake sauce, and hits a few falsetto notes and gives some desperate energy to it. Is it great? Uh, no. Is it passable? It’s decent. (If you want a fun and different take on the song, check out the Ntrance version). Will it be enough for him to stay? I think it will mainly depend on how Anoop performs, because Lil is going home with somebody. 5

Anoop will close us out in the pimp spot, with yet another Donna Summer tune, this time “Dim All The Lights.” (That would be 43% Summer content, for those of you counting at home. Donna Summer is the new/old Bryan Adams!). I will give him credit for yet another original arrangement that sounds like an odd fusion of Cyndi Lauper and Paul Young. He hits most of the notes well, particularly in the more ballady section of the song, but it’s a bit underwhelming, and his final note is horribly off. Ouch. 5

TNRLM Top 3: Adam, Kris, Allison

TNRLM Bottom 3: Lil, Matt, Anoop

Has anyone checked out DialIdol this morning? What the fuckity fuck? While it’s not clear cut that Kris and Allison are definitively in the bottom two and going home, if that turns out to be the result, America should storm the judges’ table with torches and pitchforks for wasting a “save” on Matt last week, when two of the better contestants could wind up axed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I wonder if that's how they would fix a pacemaker or an iron lung?

(Both of which, I will probably need).

Spent SEVERAL hours chatting with various tech support folks in order to work out the kinks in a suddenly AWOL* internet connection. The PC people. The docking station people. The cable people. The router people. And surprisingly, they were all concerned and (relatively) helpful. But after a clusterfuck of multiple phone calls, digging deeply into settings and configurations, resinstalls and multiple restarts, you know what fixed it? Unplugging EVERYTHING and just "letting it sit" for a while, and then plugging it all back in.

*I had to explain the situation each time, laughing out loud at myself for sounding like a drug addled, lonely nincompoop: "Well, everything was fine this morning. I was online, at the router configuration page, tweaking my settings in order to get greater wi-fi performance when I connect to my network via blackberry, when my cat decided he wanted a drink of my coffee, and jumped on my keyboard. His paws hits a few keys, and then the next thing you know, my router configuration was changed and saved, and I couldn't get back into it. The entire network shut down, and I haven't been able to connect. I questioned the cat, and even threatened waterboarding, but he didn't know what the new settings are, nor what the original settings were. Can you help?"

Yeah, it's been that kind of day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'll take potpourri for $5,800, Alex

io9 has a good summary of "Evil Corporations." I actually have t-shirts for Blue Sun, Weyland-Yutani and Cyberdyne Systems. (I wanted to link to the video from the Angel episode "Harm's Way," with featured a Wolfram & Hart new employee orientation video, but I couldn't find it online. In it, you see that the evil law firm represents many of the companies listed here. Funny stuff).

MoMass has seen his draft stock improve lately. Good for him. I think he'll make a very good possession receiver in the NFL. (And good god, he did everything -- except make a tackle -- to keep us in that last regular season game of which we shall not speak). Several folks put him now with the Bears.


Some good behind the scenes stuff from Mo Ryan on CSI's totally geektastic episode on Thursday. And Hodges? I don't care how much you love your job, if Wendy wants you to come over to watch sci-fi, the answer is always YES.

Coverage of Dollhouse at last week's PaleyFest.

Hilarious! "Uncomfortable Plot Summaries".

Empire looks at 5 shows that should be movies. Good ideas, no?

Jane Espenson talks to AMC about Caprica. On DVD next week, right?

Brian Austin Green talks to CBR about T:TSCC. Prison Break did even worse than TSCC and Dollhouse on Friday. Good news for our favorite sci-fi shows? Or does this just mean FOX will go back to cheap reality crap there?

I was gonna complain about morons scheduling their lives around fictional characters, but then remembered that I needed to be home on a Friday night to find out what happened to Starbuck and Baltar.

TWOP's "Supporting Characters that we Hate." Randy Jackson and Mohinder. One has exquisite command of the English language and one has a "word a day" calendar that only runs for 3 weeks, yet neither says anything comprehensible. And here are their Best Sidekicks. (I think personally, Cameron and Sam & Fi would be most useful).

Den of Geek lists Top 10 English psychopaths in American movies.

A chat with Johnny Galecki of Big Bang Theory.

Chuck Lorre's title card addresses the current economic downturn. With references to Skynet and Cylons.

Awesome Toby Ng charts
. And I feel better about my place in the flame.

More about HIMYM with Mo Ryan.

And now, a quick break for politics:
  • I understand the frustration behind the tea parties, but the loonies turning out aren't doing the excessive taxation movement any favors.
  • Anti-equality bigot Maggie Gallagher, the "brains" behind the idiotic "gathering storm" video, seems tone deaf in more ways than one. This is funny.
  • National Review recently had a stupefying and intolerant editorial against equality. Several thoughts on that are here, here and here.
  • Newsweek looks at the "end of Christian America."
  • On the same subject, Hitchens completely dismantles some poor stammering boob.
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Coach Richt is in it for the long haul. I say "huzzah."

Cinematical lists & TV Stars Who Should Be In More Movies.

Jason Whitlock speaks the truth about "The Answer."

Most quotable movies?

Forbes looks at what TV shows make the most money.

Lots of pop culture "last suppers." (h/t Pop Candy)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Talkin' TV about "Some Like It Hoth"

The most recent Lost episode, "Some Like It Hoth," aired Wednesday, and yesterday fellow blogger Scott (see "The Stuff of Legend") and I got virtually together to chat about the episode.

We've both been doing pretty exhaustive musings on each ep of the show, and thought it would be interesting to combine our brainpower and keyboards to discuss "Hoth." You can read our chat transcript at the link below, and see how we feel about:
  • Kate offering comfort to Roger Linus (THANKS, KATE!)
  • My Juliet crush.
  • When Jughead will appear, and who will be "Trashcan Man."
  • Miles and his daddy issues.
  • Best quotes of the episode.
  • Who throws a better punch: Sawyer, or Woody Hayes?
  • What's with the rabbits?
  • The biggest nitpick of the episode: how freakin' hard is it to spell "bounty hunter?"
  • Is there a "third team" in play?
  • Plus, quotes from The Godfather and Malice.

Yeah, it's long and tangential, but we had a good time, and hopefully, you will too.


No new Lost next week, but then we get back to the island with "The Variable."

Until then, Namaste.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Welcome to "At The Movies," with Roger Ebert and Bryan Adams (Idol Top 7)

Here we are with American Idol, and music from the movies, with guest mentor Quentin Tarantino. Will the song selections be as uninspiring (Celine, Whitney, “Against All Odds”) as I expect, or will some of the contestants pleasantly surprise? Will QT, whose every movie I have in my DVD collection, be as annoying in front of the camera (as he usually is) as he is good behind it? Will they thoughtlessly go over the allotted time and cut into Fringe, like they unconscionably did last week? Will, as I suggested on Twitter, someone do “Stuck in the Middle with You,” and cut off Randy’s ear live on national television? (We can only hope)

We shall see. On with the show.

Allison bats lead off, with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” from Armageddon. I love Allison, but I’m not a huge fan of the song. Still, she delivers it with some restraint (where needed) and panache. She appears more comfortable on stage, and hits the notes. Great start for her. 8

Note: evidently, under fear of backlash from angry Fringe fans, they are limiting the judges’ comments after each performance to just two. Can we make it just Simon and one of the others each time? Pretty please?

Next is Anoop, who will do “Everything I Do, I Do For You,” a sappy Bryan Adams ballad (Robin Scherbatsky will be happy!) from Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (which I actually own, if only for the plucky and underrated Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and, of course, Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham. Not for Kevin Costner’s accent, obviously). QT tells him to “rough it up a bit.” Though he doesn’t take QT’s advice, because none of these Idolettes listen to a fucking thing anyone says, that’s the best Anoop has been in a long time. He delivers a very controlled, vocally on spot performance. But what was he wearing? It looks like a letterman’s jacket fucked a sportcoat and spawned. 8

The frontrunner, Adam, will perform Steppenwolf’s AOR staple, “Born to be Wild” from Easy Rider. Again, with Adam, a song choice that on the surface seems to reek of Gouda, but he’s always mixed it up in interesting and surprising ways. Well, that was fun. Adam sounded like the bastard love child of Axl Rose and Freddy Mercury, with all the requisite theatricality and campy pleasures. Man, he can shriek, and shriek well. That will be tough to top, and at this point, we can go ahead and start engraving the trophy. 9.5

Matt will be doing another Bryan Adams song (somewhere along the way, Bryan Adams has become Kenny Loggins) from Don Juan DeMarco, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.” Timberfake takes a song that had Spanish flavorings, puts it through his R&B blender, and the result is a smoothie full of bland. He’s just not connecting with anyone, and his time could be up. (And what is Simon doing while Kara is commenting? Is that is version of “spit it out, woman?”) 5

Gokey will be going spec-free, and doing “Endless Love,” a delightful ode to statutory rape. (I don’t think I have to tell you what movie that’s from). Just kidding. Laws may vary in your locale. And does anyone remember Brooke Shields’ costar from that movie? No? (Martin Hewitt). This is a relatively classy and spare arrangement, and Gokey is much better on the bigger notes, but no one is going to forget Lionel Richie. And of course, no one is going to forget the dead wife, as he looks heavenward as the tune ends. This is the worst performance I’ve seen him give. Was he off key to start? 4

Two quick asides: First, I can’t watch the new Star Trek trailers enough. This movie is going to melt my warp core. Second, QT is doing one of the better mentor jobs of the recent past, even if (like usual) no one listens to him. Though he is currently filming a war movie set in Nazi Germany, I think he may have looked too much at the Fuhrer for his current hair stylings.

Here we go with Kris, who will be singing “Falling Slowly,” from Once. (Didn’t those crazy kids break up in real life? Is that a good sign?) It’s a beautiful song, and Kris shows some very earnest sincerity in delivering it. But it’s not a totally compelling performance, and he’s a little pitchy and scratchy in hitting some of the notes. 5

Lil will be doing “The Rose,” from Weekend at Bernie’s. She starts it out in the familiar fashion, and then transitions it into a gospel arrangement. It’s not as spectacular as she thinks it is, and she can’t really decide what type of tune it wants to be. Paula babbles on about something, and Simon is visibly rolling his eyes and frustrated, because he doesn’t have his secret Rainbows And Unicorns Decoder Ring (I’m with him on this one). Then, Lil wants to cut into Fringe time to backtalk Simon ONCE AGAIN. Can we please add her to The Bride’s list, just after Budd? 3

All in all, I felt like I was at a prom or a wedding. Either the song choices are far more limited than we know, or these kids have no awareness of tunes from movies. (“Hey, Tarantino is a guest mentor, and his flicks always have great soundtracks, so let’s pick a song from…..what….Bryan Adams isn’t on the soundtrack to Reservoir Dogs? Oh well….”) Wouldn’t it have made sense to get QT more involved in the selection process? Surely he wouldn’t have selected disc 2 from Bryan Adams Greatest Hits. I’d much rather see 10 – 15 minutes of discussion and debate over song choices than anything Randy, Paula or Kara had to say (did someone point Paula toward before the show?). And that judging thing was unbelievable. Whoever is responsible for the pacing of the show (director? producer?) should be shot. They limited the judges commentary severely, and STILL couldn’t bring it in on time. I understand the desire to add a fourth judge, either to season a replacement for Randy or Paula, or to bring the balance of the panel who can speak coherent English to 50/50, but the experiment is not working. I give ‘em credit for trying something new, but if you’re going to do this “only time for two” thing, then Simon ALWAYS has to be one of the two. I seriously doubt there would be any great public outcry if the commentary of the non-Simon judges was limited.

TNRLM Top 3: Adam, Anoop, Allison

TNRLM Bottom 3: Lil, Danny, Matt

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The posting has been lighter than usual around these parts, because I've been in a bit of a funk, and had a lingering migraine-esque brain intrusion. But here are a few quickies:

I think that the daughter on Castle and Rory Gilmore are the only two kids (not involved with vampires) that I've ever liked on TV. And that show really is a charming and easy procedural, like Bones used to be (and occasionally still is).

Last Friday's Dollhouse was the best episode of the series, even better than "Man on the Street" two weeks ago. It figures that just as it is getting to the "must watch/I love this show" stage, FOX will put it on death row. Please Joss, go to cable next time. I'm sure all your fans know how to change the channel.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles sure ended with a bang, didn't it? I love this show, too, but the handwriting has been on the wall for some time with it, so the inevitable cancellation won't crush me. So, did John (and Weaver) wind up exactly "when" they were supposed to all along, or is this a separate, and new, branch in the timeline?

I'm more of a Marvel than DC fan (though I understand the corporate sensibilities involved with producing Big Bang Theory), but the nerds were spot on with their comic book references last night, weren't they?

It was nice to see UGA football on the television Saturday, even though it was about as exciting as standing in line at the DMV. With Cox, Gray and even Murray, I'm not worried about the QB position. Someone needs to break out at the RB position, and let's hope that we don't have another season of WR "dropsies" spreading like leprosy. And of course, as it did last year, a good deal of the season will come down to what Willie does with his talent.

That final round of The Masters was a joy to behold. Phil certainly let one get away, giving up about 4 strokes (rinsing the tee shot at 12, and missing makeable putts on 15 and 17, not even couting a bogie on 18).

I usually watch CSI: Original Recipe, but this is just can't miss:

Okay, I'll be back tomorrow with Idol thoughts. Time for some Advil and whiskey.

Maybe Skynet was responsible

Dear TiVo:

You've been very, very good to me. We go way back, the two of us. I was one of those early adopters, when you were only a set top box with maybe 20 hours of recording time (I bought a lifetime subscription! How's that for commitment?). And when DirecTV offered a receiver with an integrated TiVo, well, how could I resist? At my last house, I had four of those things in all different rooms, and I've never ever missed a show that I wanted to watch. One time, one of the boxes had a malfunction, and the good folks at DirecTV sent me another one, no questions asked. However, this is when you were having some business squabbles with DirecTV, and the unit they sent me was their version of a DVR. Out of curiosity, I hooked it up and played with it for about an hour, but I was quickly horrified. This was no TiVo! I called DirecTV back and asked them if there were any TiVo models, they said "yes," and that was that. My wandering eye had been closed, and for good. (I won't even mention the horror of using Comcast's abomination during a brief re-lo stint).

In fact, I may be one of the few people left on Earth who doesn't watch TV in high def -- all because of you. See, when HD came out, this was when you had parted ways with DirecTV, and it just wasn't worth it for me to A. use their substandard TiFaux, or B. reconfigure every room with an HD receiver and a new TiVo separate unit. (I like my peanut butter and chocolate all together, Reese's style). So I'm thrilled that you and DirecTV have kissed and made up, and later this year we'll have an HD DirecTV receiver with my beloved TiVo, and I can join the ranks of the many who enjoy every blade of grass while watching NFL Sunday Ticket and get to see just how bad celebrities' complexions really are.

But last night was the first time you really let me down. As you know, Monday is packed full of TV goodness, what with Chuck, 24, House, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Castle and even Heroes on.

At 7:55 PM, both units suddenly went off, and then reset. Obviously, the the only thing crankier and longer than a Windows PC rebooting is a TiVo. With House and Chuck both starting at 8:00, I was worried. You came back online and operational about 8:02. I have no idea what caused this, as no other appliances in the house powered off, so it couldn't have been a local event or circuit. Hmmmm. But at 8:02, I looked in the "now recording" menu and saw both programs. Fine. I can miss 2 minutes, which would probably just be the "previously ons." So as part of my time shifting strategy, I watched Monday's PTI, and was ready to get my Chuck on at 8:25 or so. Called up the show, and voila, everything's just peachy. Watch Chuck (a good, but not great, outing -- hey, are there TRUST issues afoot? Really? /dodges anvils). Okay, time to move on to House. It says "House" in the "now playing menu." It shows "House" in the info bar once the recorded program starts. But then I start seeing these shit lime green graphics that say "The CW." And I start watching some program about impossibly horny and overprivileged teens. Wait, this isn't an acerbic, pill popping doctor. Is this the opening patient fake out? No. Everything on the TiVo controls says this is House, yet I'm watching fucking Gossip Girl. Wha..huh? So I delete this shit and catch up on another show that's been piling up in the queue, and come back around 9:20. Now Showing tells me I can watch Jack Bauer kick Jon Voight's ass, and yet here's some other CW teen crap. What the hell is going on? Fuck. Okay, I decide to watch Heroes, which is really just out of boredom and habit at this point, rather than any fondness for the stupefyingly retconned scripts and (mostly) awful acting. At least this recording actually tuned into NBC, even though there was a bizarre 5 minute break of "nothing" in the middle of the show (that actually put Heroes into 2 separate recordings). Not that I noticed, since Heroes plots already have so many holes that the gap felt like a relief. Later in the evening, the CBS sitcoms recorded perfectly.

Today, I caught up on the 24 episode online (Tony! WTF are you doing?), but it seems that unlike every other FOX show, House won't put its latest eppy on nor Hulu until over a week later.

So, the evening wasn't a total disaster, but TiVo, what's going on here? Are you getting glitchy in your old age? Is Skynet angry about Sarah Connor probably getting canceled? Is this just a one time thing? As noted, I've been very, very loyal to you, but I'm not gonna be your bitch if this happens again (what if this occurred on Lost Wednesday? There'd be chalk outlines and news crews involved). If you're feeling faint, just confine it to Heroes or some other superfluous program, okay?

How 'bout we just chalk this up to a "day off," and then get back to our long and fruitful relationship, okay?

Love and Kisses,


Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Consider that my apology."

Oh, Lost, you don't have to apologize to us. Not after giving us yet another epic episode in a season that's shaping up to be the best ever.

By now, all the Lost fans have hashed and rehashed all the details offered up in "Dead is Dead," the Benjamin Linus showcase from Wednesday. And a showcase it was. Michael Emerson has long been one of the cast's greatest strengths, and he proved it yet again, giving Ben additional layers of menace, and surprisingly enough, compassion. The episode was so good not only because we found out the answers to some questions (like what happened with Des and Penny on the dock), but more because it provided a platform for Emerson and Terry O'Quinn to go mano a mano for the better part of an hour. They took a scenario that sounds so ludicrous on the surface ("John Locke is back from the dead and escorting Ben around the island to find a smoke monster in order to be judged for his sins !") and turned it into a master class of acting. Seriously, I would pay to watch these two guys do a community theatre production of Plan 9 From Outer Space.

So what did we learn? A few thoughts, comments, questions and quotes from "Dead is Dead:"

Ben apparently has a soft spot for mothers and children, probably stemming from the fact that his mother died in childbirth and his dad was a complete asshole. He spared Rousseau and baby Alex, whom he (along with a young Ethan) was originally sent to kill by Charles in Charge Widmore back in the day. He also hesitated to murder Penny Widmore, whom he had vowed to kill in vengeance, once he saw young Charlie emerge from the boat's cabin.

Speaking of which, when Desmond went to the local Publix for groceries, I think they asked him "paper, plastic or Kevlar?"

It's interesting what Lil Ben knows. Alpert suggested that he would be wiped clean, yet when he's recovering in the tent, he still knows about The Others and his dad. Is it possible that the only thing he will "forget" is how he got shot and "saved" in the temple?

Like so many of the quotes, you really have to hear them delivered. But I chuckled out loud at "Okay, have a great day."

“I killed him? Really, ‘cause he looks fine to me.”

Another great exchange:
“Well, Ben, I was hoping that you and I could talk about the elephant in the room.”
“I assume you’re referring to the fact that I killed you.”

Or Ben, as if describing why he forgot to pick something up at the store:
“And I just didn’t have time to talk you into hanging yourself.”

I love how they introduced Caesar, making us think that he would be a prominent, ongoing character, only to have Ben blow him away with a shotgun as an "apology" to Locke (this, of course, after Ben himself had planted suspicions to Caesar about Locke in the first place to cover all his bases). Queue up the obligatory, "Et tu, Ben?"

In an eminently quotable episode, this was perhaps my favorite:
Lapidus: “As long as the dead guy says there’s a reason, then I guess everything is gonna be just peachy.”

So it appears the key to summoning Smokey is reaching into filthy hole in the ground, that resembles an Appalachian toilet, and pulling the plug? Could the smoke monster be defeated by some industrial strength Dharma Drano? Also, since the entire Dharma compound was built on top of the Smokey summoning hole, this suggests Dharma knew a great deal more about the mysteries of the island that we've supposed.

We also learned why Charles was banished from the island. Evidently, he broke a lot of the rules, which include frequent trips off island and fathering a child there, too, which we all assume to be Penny. So if the child was fathered off island, I think we can assume that Eloise Hawking is not Penny's mother, so she and Daniel are not siblings.

Has Ben really never seen a "resurrection" on the island before? He knows that it has significant healing powers, from his own personal experiences* as well as those of various island inhabitants (such as Mikhail, who worked for Ben and recovered from some pretty gruesome injuries). Obviously, we can't believe a word out of Ben's mouth, but he did appear to be genuinely stunned to see Locke alive and sitting beside his bed. And he tells Sun, “But never once has it done anything like this. Dead is dead. You don’t get to come back from that. Not even here. So the fact that Jon Locke is walking around this island…scares the living hell out of me.”

*though not a tumor on his spine, which he needed Jack to handle.

Mussolini would be disappointed: “It’s not a train, John. It doesn’t run on a schedule.”

Is there a deeper significance to Alex that I'm forgetting? Why would the "island" want her dead in the first place?

I assume we're meant to believe that there is some connection now between Locke and Smokey. Their appearances and disappearances, and knowledge of how things work, seem too interconnected to be coincidental. And Smokey, while hauntingly in the guise of Alex, also makes sure to let Ben know who is now in charge: “I know. Listen to me you bastard. I know that you’re already planning to kill John again. But I want you to know that if you so much as touch him, I will hunt you down and destroy you. You will listen to every word John Locke says, and you will follow his every word. Do you understand?” How wonderful will it be to see this new dynamic played out by Emerson and O'Quinn?

For those that may have been speculating about alternate timelines, I think we got a pretty good signal that we're not going there, with the Risk board game being left exactly like it was when Hurley and Sawyer were playing before the escape from the island 3 years prior.

Ilana is obviously more than just an agent charged with bringing Sayid to Guam. Her "what lies in the shadow of the statue?" was a code phrase, much like the "what did one snowman say to the other snowman?" from seasons past. But what's in her big honkin' box?

We also got a glimpse of a rather amusing hieroglyph, showing a version of Smokey interacting with Anubis.

At this point, you're either with Lost or hopping off the train. I know some people still want plausible, scientific accuracy and have dreaded the show venturing too far off into mystical and sci-fi hoodoo. But here we are in season 5, with resurrections, ghosts, judgmental smoke monsters and time travel, and to me, the show is even more interesting. What keeps it from being just another entertaining genre piece is the quality of the acting, with Emerson and O'Quinn being a prime example of that in "Dead is Dead."

Next week, it looks like we'll get more backstory from one man comedy machine Miles Straume, and I can't wait.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dollhouse rumors set the twitterverse afire

It all started with a simple tweet, when earlier today Felicia Day indicated that the episode of Dollhouse she appears in, titled "Epitaph One," was not going to air on FOX.

Tweets and blogs went wild, and people were getting their pitchforks and torches ready to storm the network. (Again, as Browncoats might recall).

The reality is, there's nothing underhanded going on here by FOX, the TV network. (Yet). They plan to air every single episode they ordered, and the aired season finale will serve as an appropriate season finale.

But there is a more complicated situation:

20th Century Fox is the production company.
FOX is the TV network.
They are two different entities.

FOX ordered, and paid for, 13 episodes. One of those episodes was the original pilot, which Joss and TPTB decided to scrap entirely, though some of the elements filmed for that scrapped pilot (like Victor chatting with Ballard on the roof) were used in other episodes.
So that leaves 12 episodes, and all of those will air on FOX, up to the season finale, entitled "Omega."
However, 20th Century Fox ordered an additional episode for the DVD release of Dollhouse Season One, and that episode was produced. It is entitled "Epitaph One." Details on the plot are murky at this point, and I'm staying as far away from spoilers as I can, but indications are that it doesn't necessarily resolve any huge elements from the 12 eps that will have aired on FOX the TV Network. It could serve as a launching point for Season 2, should that come about, or just be a bonus ep for those of us who purchase the DVDs.
No decision has been made for Season 2 at this point, and it probably won't be until next month.

Mo Ryan has an excellent collection of links to the various reports at her blog here. In that post, she makes the exact same point that I made back in February (scroll down to see my rant about Joss working with the broadcast networks). Bottom line: The Joss we know and love does ongoing, serialized, high concept dramas that just won't deliver the mainstream audiences necessary for sustained life on broadcast networks that can cheaply put out reality crap that brings in twice as many viewers. The numbers back it up.

If Dollhouse was going to get any life for a second season, my best guess is that a move to FX would make the most sense, but I don't have any idea how the production and talent deals with Joss, Eliza and the rest of the gang work, nor do I know interested FX would be. NBC did the same type of thing with their shows and USA (USA is owned by the same parent as NBC, same as with FOX and FX); when they shared Law & Order: Criminal Intent and tried sharing summer airings of Monk and Psych. FX could make A LOT of geeks happy if they took both Sarah Connor and Dollhouse over to FX for 12 - 16 episode seasons.

That aside, as I said in my post and Ryan also urges, Joss's next move should be to cable (Showtime, HBO, FX, USA, TNT, AMC, SyFy or wherever) instead of playing the ultimately futile "numbers game" on a field that isn't titled in his favor.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'll take potpourri for $5,700, Alex

The deleted Twilight scene. Ha!

The 10 Ugliest baseball unis of the 70s. Shield your eyes.

10 Funniest Freudian slips on TV
. It's a good watch, and all the clips are short and to the point. (Trivia: the lovely lady who says "cock" in #5 is the wife of the current NFL commissioner).

TV Guides claims these are the 20 greatest TV catchphrases.

The best minor league baseball promotion ever. Matt Foley would be proud.

Bryan Fuller fesses up about why Heroes blew. (Blows?)

Oh, Boy! Scott Bakula talks about the 20th anniversary of Quantum Leap. (And who knew that Chuck's General Beckman was married to Enterprise's Doctor Phlox?)

I twittered this, but it's too funny not to reference again: Joe Cocker. Translated with subtitles.

Iowa uses common sense, and some conservatives think it's hard to be "Christian" in public now. So sorry about the potential public scorn directed at bigotry. Sullivan reacts here. The American Spectator calls equal marriage rights "a hill to die on." And what does this mean, politically, to the evangelical right?

100 classic movie lines in 200 seconds.

10 characters Zooey Deschanel should have played.

First Taun Taun sleeping bags, and now this? Why wasn't I a geek child in this era?

Why didn't he just pray, and have god magically fix it so he doesn't look like an al dente noodle in a windstorm in slow motion?

Chicago Trib looks at why NCIS is so appealing. It's weird, I feel the same way. I was looking for an "easy" procedural to watch when I was going to bed, and my TiVo recommended NCIS. I had never given it much thought, but started watching thanks to the USA repeats, and next thing you know, I had seen every episode. At first, you're a little nonchalant and incredulous. How long will Ducky's stories go on? How much can Gibbs glower? What's with the boat in the basement? Is Tony going to shamelessly flirt and quote movies in every episode? Is McGee Neo? Israeli to English doesn't really result in those kinds of malaprops, does it? Is this the sunniest and least hardcore goth chick ever? But after a while, you just come to welcome these characters onto your TV. Yeah, it's kind of square, but oddly addicting.

Zap2It looks at 10 good questions in preparation for tonight's Lost (though I don't think we'll get them all answered, of course).

10 "Wives Tales" debunked

Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s 60 - 41

The preamble:

As I go through the One Hit Wonder countdown, I'll offer some thoughts on the song, video or anything else that pops into my head. Also, I'll examine my iTunes library and indicate if I already have the song there (H), will be downloading it (Y) or will make like Nancy Reagan, and just say no (N). Feel free to chime in with any of your personal remembrances or anecdotes as we jump into the Wayback Machine with Sherman and Mr. Peabody.

100 - 81
80 - 61

60 Nu Shooz “I Can’t Wait”
An very catchy dance track from the 80s. (Although are they really "one hit?" They did have "Point of No Return" on the charts, too). H

59 The Outfield “Your Love”
“Josie’s on a vacation far away.” Who didn’t sing along to that when it came on the radio back the day? An absolutely perfect pop song of the era. Y

58 Don Johnson “Heartbeat”
What was worse, this song or his marriage to Melanie Griffith? Or Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, the sinkhole of which Mickey Rourke is only now escaping (though the boxing, the babes, the drugs, the surgery might have played a role, too, so we can't blame it all on Sonny Crockett). If you’re gonna have a star trip vanity recording, at least get fucked up in the studio with Rick James (bitch), a la #80 on this list. N

57 Jermaine Stewart “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off”
I had a girlfriend in college who loved this song, and we used to dance to it all the time. She thought it was making a point, as she wanted to “save herself for marriage.” Well, after a “drink and drown” night at O’Malley’s, we didn’t listen to it to much anymore. N

56 Til Tuesday “Voices Carry”
Great song and video. Aimee Mann is still making music (the awesome Magnolia soundtrack, for example) and even showed up on an episode of Buffy. (speaking of which, the douchebag boyfriend in this video looks like a young James Marsters). H

55 Johnny Kemp “Just Got Paid”
I vaguely recall this song from college. I think one of my exes was still in high school, giving this song a somewhat different meaning. N

54 Chris DeBurgh “Lady in Red”
Wow, you couldn’t escape this schmaltz on MTV, or anywhere, for that matter. I remember that his “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” was one of the first handful of videos I saw on the channel. Back when they played videos. N

53 Taco “Puttin’ On the Ritz”
How in the world was this a hit in the 80s? A eurosynth version of a 1929 Irving Berlin tune? Of course, I always think of this, which is much better. Y

52 Mary Jane Girls “In My House”
Someone else benefiting from the Rich James (bitch) touch. At first, I thought they may have been named after the shoes or Peter Parker’s girlfriend. I was kinda naive back then, and there wasn’t an urban dictionary readily accessible on the not yet invented internet via my not yet invented blackberry. Of course, once I got to college, I understood all that perfectly. Spider-man’s chick my ass. Y

51 After the Fire “Der Kommissar”
Another one of those head scratchers. An English band, takes a German song by Falco, and gets an inescapable top 40 hit. Although with lyrics like “zhuh, zhuh” and “cha! cha! cha!” you probably could have predicted that. N

50 Neneh Cherry “Buffalo Stance”
I never really understood what the hell this was about. Did it have to do with chicken wings? Maybe wobbling like Jim Kelly coming out of bar at closing time? (True story: on a trip back from Buffalo a few years ago, I was sitting next Jim Kelly in first class. Between the two of us, I think we knocked back the entire drink cart on a two hour flight. Seemed like a nice guy. He asked me how to make his computer play movies. He wasn’t the brightest bulb on the string of xmas lights). An ode to native American hunting? N

49 Philip Bailey (w/ Phil Collins) “Easy Lover”
I saw Earth Wind and Fire a few years ago in concert, and Philip Bailey still has a remarkable voice. I’m sure the girl this song was written about was flattered. H

48 Yello “Oh Yeah”
Another WTF song on its surface, that everyone now knows as “The Ferris Bueller Song.” How do you ever do anything after this? N

47 Pretty Poison “Catch Me I’m Falling”
I remember the song, and being mesmerized by the big haired, red headed hottie in the video. N

46 Georgia Satellites “Keep Your Hands To Yourself”
Fun, catchy, and doing absolutely nothing to dispel stereotypes about my home state. N

45 Robbie Nevil “C’est La Vie”
I had forgotten all about this one. Good little pop song. Robbie later went on to write the theme song to Hannah Montana. Y

44 Wall of Voodoo “Mexican Radio”
Besides the ultra disturbing image of a face emerging out of beans in the video (and I think there were a few, trippy late night visits to Krystal when I thought this may happen at any second and had to be talked down from the ledge), this was a classic college radio tune. H

43 Shannon “Let the Music Play”
It’s odd when your name appears in popular music. I wish my namesake had done something more iconic than a standard 80s dance tune. Of course, Del Shannon did “Runaway.” And there was that song “Shannon” about a dead dog. Too bad my parents didn’t name me “Gloria.” Or “Mack the Knife.” N

42 Timbuk 3 “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”
If iPods and digital downloads had been around in college, I could have saved $8 and just bought the single, instead of the whole cassette. I could use that $8 now. Y

41 Billy Vera “At This Moment”
One of those “torch songs” that seems to have escaped from one era and found its way into another. Based on the airplay and Alex P. Keaton connection, I thought this would have rated much higher on the list. Also, how cool is this: Billy Vera appeared in the cult classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension." Y

Good news for nerds!

Multiple sources are reporting that Leonard Nimoy, who got to know JJ Abrams during the production of the new (and awesome looking) Trek reboot, will be guesting on Fringe as the long referenced yet never seen William Bell, the founder of Massive Dynamics and former playmate of Walter Bishop.

I was wondering where they were going to go with casting this role, as it has been built up for some time. Couldn't ask for a better choice.

Did everyone spend the fucking 80s in an elevator?

Here we are with this week’s Idol, and the theme is “songs from the year you were born.” Other than serving to make me feel like I should be carbon dated, I’m actually looking forward to this, since I’m sure all these kiddies were born in the 80s. And if you’re reading this here blog, you’ll know that the 80s are, like, you know, my mostest favorite decade. (Of course, I am suffering from a little Fringe withdrawal, so if this gets too tedious with bad song choices, then I may just fast forward through it and get on with the business of watching Peter crack wise and Walter obsess about snack foods and talk to his cow).

Anyhoo….here we go:

Is it just me, or is Kara looking hotter and hotter each week?

Danny bats lead off, having been born in 1980 (I think they’re going oldest to youngest? Does this mean Allison will finally get some Idol love and be in the pimp spot?). He’ll be kinda cheating, performing “Stand By Me,” since Mickey Gilley did a remake of the classic Ben E. King song for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. (I have fond memories of that soundtrack, listening to it with some friends while learning how to play poker). In a way, it’s a double “cheat,” much like the finale of Life On Mars was a dream within a dream within a hyperspace slumber, because Gokey sounds nothing like Ben E. King nor Mickey Gilley. Rather, he sounds like he’s doing the adult contemporary version of “Stand By Me” that would play in a Disney off Broadway musical adaptation of Urban Cowboy that doesn’t feature Scott Glenn in a tight mesh shirt or Deborah Winger getting fucked. Sigh. I know the Ghoulish Widower gets a lot grief, but since I missed a lot of the early backstory, I’ve been impressed with him thus far. However, this was not one of those nights. I thought he overreached with the schmaltziness (interesting side note, my spell checker didn’t blink at “schmaltziness”) of the arrangement, and it was totally uninteresting and made me long for either of the two popular versions. The judges seem to love it. 5 for me.

Kris, who is beginning to grow on me, is up next with 1985’s “All She Wants to Do is Dance.” (Sigh. I think there will be a lot of “sighs” during this hour. He said he wanted to grow up to be a taxi driver. I would be more interested if he said he wanted to grow up to be Taxi Driver, AKA Travis Bickle, and have crushes on Cybill Sheppard and Jodie Foster and kill random members of the dark underbelly of New York. But I think he was speaking more of being a hack, and we’ll see if that turns into “hackery” for the song. Also, in 1985, I think I discovered the hooka). What are these people doing to my beloved 80s music? This sounds like Don Henley by way of Jamoroquai, on Jamoroquai’s worst day. (and I say that loving a good number of Jamoroquai tunes). He goes away from the James Taylorish drivel, but Kara hits it on the head, saying that it sounds like someone gave him “jazz funk” homework. Decent, at best, vocals, and an ass arrangement. 4

Next we have Lil, with Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to do With It” from 1984 (I guess we’re not going in chronological order). Finally, something in her wheelhouse that I can see her performing well, that doesn’t take the shouty train on the shouty tracks, all the way to shouty town and put her up in the shouty suite at the shouty inn. Well, that was just okay. And still shouty. And when she wasn’t shouty, she was taking deep breaths, getting ready to shout. There was no nuance or subtlety to that, and it was just a pale, pale imitation of Tina. (And Paula – PAULA! – makes sense). The judges, since I’ve been watching, keep talking about Lil’s potential, but since I’m on board since only the top 13, I haven’t seen it. 3

Anoop is up next, first apologizing (not too eloquently) for being a petulant twat last week. He was born in 1986, and will be doing “True Colors,” one of my least favorite and most overplayed songs of the decade. Sigh. Is Fringe on yet? He gives a very restrained, controlled version of the song that’s not unpleasant. It’s faint praise to call this the best of the night thus far. 6

Scott was born in 1985, and will be doing “The Search is Over.” Fuck, these people are raping my memories of the 80s. Did I TiVo through the beginning, when they said the theme was “music from the year of your birth, that’s only played in elevators and dentists' offices?” Jesus Adult Contemporary Christ. And what does it take to make you appreciate the lead vocalist of Survivor? This was a mess, and he couldn’t hit the notes he needed to. I will give Scott credit for being personable and funny, even if his continued presence on the show is dragging it down. Terrible. 2

Allison was born in 1992 (I’m Ooooooooold!), and will be performing “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Aw, as Gob Bluth would say, COME ON! Did the parents of all these contestants, for the first year of their lives, keep them in a tiny sealed chamber that only piped in Muzak? I mean, this is a decent song from a really good album, but there’s a sameness to everything I’m hearing this evening that feels like I’m sitting in a waiting room in Hell. On one hand, it’s a decent choice for Allison, whose “rocker chick” schtick frequently gets (unfairly) ignored by the judges, and I understand the desire to show them something different. It’s an engaging performance, and one with restraint and color, but it leaves me with a decided, but appreciative, “meh.” 7

Matt was born in 1985, and will be giving us the gift of “Part Time Lovers.” SIGH. Does no one remember the dawning and dominance of early MTV? The English new wave? The rise of pop-tinged hair metal? The cultural incursions into the top 40 and public consciousness made by “alternative” bands? Fuck, almost ANY song from that list of Top One Hit Wonders of the 80s would be preferable to the seven choices I’ve seen here tonight. Matt does a decent job with his Timberfake, whitewashed Stevie Wonder, but he’s overly enamored with his supposed “blue eyed soul” to the point that I can’t enjoy it. (It’s like the Life On Mars thing again; he’s thinking he’s doing a white guy, doing a white guy, doing soul. If you want to hear real blue eyed soul from the 80s, check out Daryl Hall, Paul Carrack, Boz Scaggs, Paul Young or any number of artists). 6

Adam is in the pimp spot, and let’s PRAY that one of these folks has an interesting song choice.

HOLY SHIT. I’ve come to the end of the recorded program, and NO ADAM. Fortunately, I’ve TiVo’d this AND Fringe, so I’ll get to see what he does, but what about the rest of America, who might not have recorded the much better program? Will this be a controversy? I don’t expect that Adam, no matter what he does, will be in the Bottom 3, but it will prove interesting to see what the producers do with this development. Has this happened before?

Adam was born in 1982, and will be doing “Mad Love,” a Tears for Fear song that I LOVE both in its original TFF incarnation, and in the Gary Jules version from Donnie Darko. I had hoped for something more fun, upbeat and 80s kitsch, but this will hopefully cleanse the pallet after being trapped in an elevator for an hour. Great choice by Adam, and a heartfelt and extraordinarily well performed version of the song. Best of the night, by a long shot. Bravo, dude. 9

TNRLM Top 3: Adam, Allison, Anoop

TNRLM Bottom 3: Scott, Lil, Kris

Monday, April 6, 2009

To Love and Lose

I'm certainly no stranger to becoming attached to something, and then having that thing cruelly and suddenly vanish without a workable comprehension of why it went away.

And then, of course, there's television.

There are shows that you loved and admired, but knew had run their natural life, like Buffy, Six Feet Under and The Sopranos.

There are shows that you were passionately devoted to, but that just got smothered in the crib before they really had a chance to catch on, such as Firefly, Andy Barker PI, Profit and The Middleman.

And there are the shows you love that got a few seasons, but never received the support and viewership they needed to survive, like Pushing Daisies, Angel and Deadwood.

As we're heading toward the end of the 08/09 television season, a lot of shows are on the bubble for renewal. put together a lit of the Top 10 Shows in danger, and not surprisingly, a good number of them are firmly entrenched on my TiVo. (You can read the list, and probably guess which ones).

I wonder if it's better knowing and fretting, or just getting a quick bullet in the head (RIP, Derek Reese). I mean, in this day and age, you can check out the quick overnight ratings the next morning and know where your show stands. You have legions of reporters and bloggers covering every minute aspect of the business of entertainment. So, for example, I can smack my palm against my forehead on Saturday morning when I realize that more people on their couches actively choose to watch Howie Do It, Supernanny and Wife Swap rather than Terminator: Sarah Connors Chronicles or Dollhouse. When I was a kid, you had to wait months and months to find out in TV Guide or Starlog that Battlestar Galactica was going to be one season and done (and then come back with one of the shittiest "sequels" imaginable. Anyone remember Galactica 1980? Jesus Cylon Christ that was awful).

So we're getting into crunchtime for a lot of our favorite shows. And that makes me nervous.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yes and Maybe

Don't forget, fans of quality TV, that HBO's In Treatment returns tonight (and tomorrow night). Last year, we had one 30 minute ep each weeknight, mirroring psychologist Paul's regular appointments. Now, we get two eps on Sunday, and three on Monday. In Treatment made my 10 Best of 2008 list, so set your TiVos accordingly.

Also, I'm not sure what to make of ABC's new The Unusuals. The promos look intriguing, but a little Adam Goldberg goes a long way. I've never really watched anything with Amber Tamblyn in it, but she seems like the type of quirky actress that might appeal to me. Since we don't have Life on Mars (a featherweight piffle, made entertaining by Michael Imperioli and Gretchen Mol, and forever stained by the ludicrous ending) to kick around anymore, I'll set the DVR and we'll see, I guess.

Sarah Connor and Dollhouse step up their games

FOX's sci-fi block on Friday delivered in a big way, with both Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse offering exciting, thought provoking episodes (that sadly, not too many people are watching).

T:TSSC occasionally ventures off the primary narrative of "saving the future" to quietly examine the psychology, and emotional toll of, waging a present day guerrilla war against robots from the future (see the glacially-paced 3 episode arc about Sarah's mindset that kicked off this latest run of episodes). A lot of fans don't like those types of stories, and think they hurt the general appeal of a show that should offer lots of shit blowing up. I understand those complaints, particularly as it relates to garnering a more prominent Nielsen rating (more people would rather watch Howie Do It or Wife Swap? Humanity scares me), but I enjoy those types of episodes as well.

However, Friday's episode, "Adam Raised a Cain," had a little something for everyone. You had nice movement on the master plot (Team Connor connecting the dots leading back to Zeira Corp and Catherine Weaver), significant action (a terrific shoot out at the Weaver house), quiet and contemplative poignancy (the bookend scenes at the burial ground), some freaky looks at robot/robot and robot/human relations (all the scenes with John Henry, Weaver and Savannah, all superbly played by the actors) and even a rarity for this show, humor (Savannah's teacher thinking John Henry was a myspace predator, Savannah telling her mom, played by Shirley Manson, that she "can't sing," and this exchange "He can't be trusted." "No one can be trusted." "But I only want to kill HIM."). Plus, a major character getting killed in the first 15 minutes of the show.

I was in the enviable position of being familiar with, but never having watched a minute of, 90210. So I didn't have any Brian Austin Green baggage to carry with me into watching him embody Derek Reese. I thought he did a fantastic job portraying the haunted future war vet and uncle to mankind's savior, John Connor. So it was shocking to see him take a bullet to the head from a T-888 during the mission to save little Savannah Weaver. I really applaud the show's producers for staging this seismic development in the way that they did. No swelling chorus of music. No long, heroic slo-mo goodbye. No last minute cliff hanger. Just a shot to the head, when you least expect that it will happen to our heroes. Bang. He's dead. Matter of fact. Bringing into sharp relief the risks our little band of main characters faces every day. Kudos to Josh Friedman and BAG; we'll miss you Derek.

The show has one more episode to go before wrapping up its season, and in all likelihood, the series. I'm looking forward to next week, and will be sad if it doesn't come back.

Over on Dollhouse, the hot streak of good episodes continued with "Needs." One of my complaints about the show is that the Dollhouse has been presented at being not very competent, especially for the prices they charge, with "glitches" that seem to occur to the dolls on virtually every episode. They creatively addressed that issue this week (and in previous weeks), by showing us that what we see is only one Dollhouse of 20 total, and that the dolls we witness having glitches are are only a handful of a much larger stable of dolls in this one house. So instead of "half the engagements screw up," we now know that programming is becoming erratic in 4 or 5 actives (Echo, November, Victor, Sierra and possibly Mike) out of say, 30 or 40 in only one house and hundreds elsewhere.

”If your child starts talking for the first time, you feel proud. If your dog does, you freak the hell out.”

"But I also care what you’re doing. To our ‘pets.’”

To address the underlying issues, a plan is developed that kept twisting and turning throughout the episode. The 5 dolls wake up without a programmed personality! Oh, wait, it's just a training exercise for Dollhouse security. But wait, 4 of them escape out into the wild and the test has failed! Oh, wait, they were supposed to get out, to come to peace with pre-Dollhouse issues that kept corrupting their programming. Even twistier, the whole plan was devised by Dr. Saunders (an always nuanced and excellent Amy Acker), who now seems much more integrated with and committed to the workings of the Dollhouse than we were supposing. (All signs pointed to her being the "mole." Now, that appears not to be the case, unless of course it is, because the way things are going, it could be anyone now, including Adelle, Topher, Dominic or most likely, Topher's lab assistant Ivy).

Each of the escaping actives, except for poor Mike (who I think was probably a "plant" and didn't really have any glitching issues to resolve), gets to address their subconscious psychological drives. Echo (who I still don't really like as Caroline) gets to deal with her savior complex. Victor addresses his need to fall in love. November deals with the loss of her child, and Sierra, in the most disturbing part of the episode, confronts the scumbag who "sold" her against her will into the Dollhouse program (and who ickily still keeps "renting her out" now that she's programmed to be more accommodating).

“Is this some kind of frequent buyer reward?” Ew.

I hope the poor female handler participating in the exercise gets one of those nice bonuses wired into her account, since Echo beat the shit out of her with a fire extinguisher.

In part of his riveting encounter with a pissed off Echo, Topher also shows why he's in programming, and not the front man:

“We’re good people. Nice people. We help people become better people by giving them what they need. I don’t usually do the sales pitch.”

Out of the Dollhouse, we also learn that Agent Ballard isn't quite as altruistic as he seems, given his dreams about Echo (sure to produce a "man reaction" I would think). And the Inspector Clouseau of the FBI also finally discovers that his place has been bugged:

“Can I trace where it was transmitting?” “Absolutely, if you were E.T.”

Overall, this was a really good episode anchored by some terrific performances all around, and some very solid writing.

Both "Adam Raised a Cain" and "Needs" get an A+ in my book.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s 80 - 61

For those just tuning in:

As I go through the One Hit Wonder countdown, I'll offer some thoughts on the song, video or anything else that pops into my head. Also, I'll examine my iTunes library and indicate if I already have the song there (H), will be downloading it (Y) or will make like Nancy Reagan, and just say no (N). Feel free to chime in with any of your personal remembrances or anecdotes as we jump into the Wayback Machine with Sherman and Mr. Peabody.

Part 1 is here.

And away we go:

80 Eddie Murphy: “Party All The Time”
Yes, it was a vanity project for one of the largest (at the time) and most narcissistic stars. But he got a drugged up Rick James (bitch) to help out, and damn if it’s not catchy. I think I put this on a “dance party” mix tape. If it was Eddie, and not the girl, who liked to "party all the time," that might better explain Pluto Nash. And Meet Dave. And Norbit. N

79 Alannah Myles: “Black Velvet”
When this song came out, I was “between cars,” since I had had two consecutive new VWs stolen from my apartment. My dad helped out, and bought me another car, this time an older Monte Carlo. It was in great shape, but it was white, with a dusky rose crushed velour interior (bench seating!), landau top and wire wheels. Yes, I was the palest pimp in the Marietta area. I was also hanging out a lot with a friend of mine’s soon to be ex-wife, and we both loved this tune. H

78 Aldo Nova: “Fantasy”
Remember this video? Where Aldo Nova, in skin tight leopard print, arrives in a helicopter and uses his guitar as a laser beam? If that doesn’t say “80s,” I don’t know what does. Nova was Canadian, like Alannah Myles and several others on this list. Maybe there’s some truth to the How I Met Your Mother theory that it takes decades for things to get from Canada down to the States. So perhaps their “second” hits are just around the corner. This was a great song to have blasting in HS when you were driving 90 MPH around country roads. H

77 General Public: “Tenderness”
After one of my favorite 80s bands, English Beat, split up, one part of the band went on to form Fine Young Cannibals, and the other part formed this band, who only had the one hit, which is awesome. (the song, not that they only had one hit). Y

76 J.J. Fad: “Supersonic”
I wasn’t too crazy about rap (though I used to know all the words to “Rapper’s Delight”) back in the 80s, so I have absolutely no memory of this song. N

75 Bertie Higgins: “Key Largo”
How bad could a song be that invokes Bogie and Bacall? Eh, the movie was much better. My parents loved this song though. N

74 Information Society: “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)”
This was one of the lesser europop dance pop songs, though I did really like that whole genre. What did I learn from the VH1 special? The “pure energy” sample in the song is Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Could they have exited the ranks of “one hit wonders” with a follow up using “KHAAAAAAAAAAN!”? Maybe. N

73 Paul Hardcastle: “19″
Wasn’t this one of the oddest top 10 hits ever? A spoken word sample from a Vietnam War documentary put to a synth pop beat by an English dude. Weird. (Plus, it turns out the info was wrong – the average age of the soldier was 23). N

72 Swing Out Sister: “Breakout”
The song was okay, but I loved the lead singer’s hair, a short, dark, razor sharp bob, and one of my pseudo girlfriends at the time got that cut. Ahhh, that brings back fond memories. I think I’m kind of an anomaly among guys in that I’m not all that crazy about the long flowing wavy tresses. If my significant other could have one hairstyle for the rest of eternity, it would be this one. N

71 Jack Wagner: “All I Need”
Frisco Jones! Another soap star (and really good celebrity golfer, who is currently shacking up with his Melrose Place co-star Heather Locklear). This was a cheesy ballad, but I do remember one of my fraternity brother’s younger sister had just arrived on campus, and we wound up making out in her car listening to this. I probably would have preferred "Perfect Circle" or some old school Barry White, but I was drunk. N

70 Harold Faltermeyer: “Axel F”
In the summer of Beverly Hills Cop, you couldn’t escape this song. One of the few movie soundtrack hits that somehow didn’t seem to involve Kenny Loggins. N

69 T’Pau: “Heart And Soul”
Geek that I am, I know that the band was named after the old Vulcan chick who made Kirk and Spock fight to the death, after Spock’s bride to be (named T’Pring) kicked him to the curb. When the character showed up again on the Enterprise prequel, she was no longer a bitter old crone, this time played by hottie Kara Zediker , who would also show up as a member of David Palmer’s staff on the first season of 24. It's been pointed out that I watch a lot of TV. Y

68 Peter Schilling: “Major Tom”
A follow up to a David Bowie song? By someone else? Sure, why not. But you can’t find the original 80s version in English online. N

67 Martika: “Toy Soldiers”
Man, I hated this song. I didn’t realize that she was one of Prince’s girls (like Appollonia, Vanity, etc.), and you never would have know it from this tune. Where’s the funk, girl? N

66 The Jeff Healy Band: “Angel Eyes”
Another Canadian, and a hell of a guitar player. N

65 Boomtown Rats: “I Don’t Like Mondays”
As high a profile as Bob Geldof has, you’d think there would have been more than this one hit. A sugary sounding confection. About a girl who went on a shooting spree. Ahh, good times. Y

64 Robbie Dupree: “Steal Away”
They pointed out in the show that it seemed like this song should be from the 70s, and that’s exactly right. Maybe he was from Canada too? N

63 Oran “Juice” Jones: “The Rain”
The 80s was a good time to be nicknamed “Juice.” Two decades and two heads later, not so much. N

62 XTC: “Dear God”
This was XTC’s only hit? Really? What about “Senses Working Overtime?” Still, I love the sentiments expressed here. And XTC’s Andy Partridge wrote the theme song for one of my favorite TV shows, Wonderfalls. H

61 E.U.: “Da Butt”
A “do this dance song” much like The Twist, The Macarena or the Electric Slide, only much simpler, since all you need is your ass. N