Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This Is Why I Read Blogs

For headline like this:

Brian Dunkleman Wishes AIDS On Ryan Seacrest

Your Weekly Viewing Assignments

Watch the following this week and discuss in the comments:

1 -- Damages: You're only a week behind, and you should be able to find the pilot on FX some time this week. Bitchin' Glenn Close and the best mystery on TV.

2 -- Mad Men: It's on AMC, not on A&E like I thought. No less than four people in the span of a day and a half told me I had to watch this show, and I'm glad they have. Watching the show made me realize how relatively seldom, on TV and in movies, the 1950s are viewed through the prism of sexism. It's halfway terrifying -- how can you fully trust anyone who displays the levels of misogyny that were so commonplace in '50s office culture -- but it's fascinating at the same time.

3 -- Weeds, season 2: It's newly to DVD, and it's required watching to get you caught up for season 3. To the best of my recollection, half the characters left off in the midst of various Mexican standoffs, while the other half were headed for various borders. Be as psyched for the new season as I am!

4 -- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: They did a really good job on this one, did they not? Lot of stuff had to get pruned away, of course, but that book was a motherfucker to adapt, and in a few areas I thought the movie might have been more successful than the book. Sacrelige, I know, but, for example, Harry's pissiness and isolation are much more sympathetic in this movie. And the Luna Lovegood character was depicted SO perfectly, I can hardly stand it. Great stuff.

So get to talking while I dig out from under this pile of recaps I haven't written. Discuss!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Emmys '07: Exceptions That Prove The Rule

It's late, so I'm taking the Emmy nominations in list form. In short: a bad set of nominees, overall, but not nearly as bad as it might have been, which means I can't just froth at the mouth about it, which makes me hate the Emmys all the more. Anyhoo...

Good Nominations I Expected
30 Rock, The Office, Ugly Betty -- Best Comedy
Alec Baldwin
Steve Carell
Tina Fey
America Ferrera
Mary-Louise Parker
Sally Field
Edie Falco
Jamie Pressly
Elizabeth Perkins
Sandra Oh
Chandra Wilson

Good Nominations That Have Been A Long Time Coming
Ricky Gervais
Neil Patrick Harris
Rainn Wilson
Jenna Fischer
Aida Turturro

Not My Personal Choices, But Respectable
Heroes
The Sopranos
James Gandolfini
Mariska Hargitay
T.R. Knight
Masi Oka
Terry O'Quinn
Michael Emerson
Vanessa Williams
Katherine Heigl

Not On My List, But She Rules
Rachel Griffiths

Boring
Grey's Anatomy
Tony Shaloub
Keifer Sutherland
James Spader
Felicity Huffman
Patricia Arquette
Jeremy Piven
William Shatner
Conchata Ferrell
Holland Taylor
Loraine Bracco

Insulting
Boston Legal
Two and a Half Men

Charlie Sheen
Jon Cryer

New Blood, Don't Care
Entourage
Kevin Dillon
Denis Leary

Don't Watch, But I Hear Good Things
House

Hugh Laurie
Kyra Sedgwick
Minnie Driver
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss

If I have time tomorrow: the always insulting Guest Actor/Actress awards. And how outrageous the Friday Night Lights snub was.

Emmy Nominated




Thoughts on the rest of the Emmy nominations later today.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

We'll Take This As An Apology

So you all may remember that I raved about the hastily-cancelled Kidnapped and how well the unaired episodes played when they were released on DVD. If it had stayed on the air, no shit, it would have been one of my top 5 shows of the season. It seems that someone at NBC -- or Dick Wolf himself -- might have been on that same wavelength, because Linus Roache just became the second Kidnapped alum (along with Jeremy Sisto) to get cast on the Law & Order mothership. Roache's character replaces Jack McCoy as the lead ADA, while McCoy moves up the ladder to District Attorney, while Fred Thompson leaves the show to unsuccessfully run for President.

I hardly ever make a point of watching new L&O episodes. It's not a serial which means there's no great urgency not to miss one, and they get run in syndication so often that I figure I'll see them soon enough. The Roache and Sisto castings might make me watch the new episodes after all.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My Emmy Ballot

Emmy nominations get announced on Thursday. I don't think I'm going to try to predict them, though. The Emmys are always so maddeningly backwards, I'd have to put myself into such a cynical mood in order to figure out what past-its-prime shows and performances will get recognized, I'd be in a bad mood all day. Rather, I'll just present what my Emmy ballot would look like, if I had one. Which I should by now, don't you think? I suppose that'll depend on who's on my list, huh?

BEST DRAMA

Battlestar Galactica
Big Love
Deadwood
Friday Night Lights
Lost


Deadwood's long since passed, but it was still the best show on HBO for all its three seasons, Sopranos be damned. Lost really rebounded and delivered a strong season that I hope it gets rewarded for. Big Love boasts what might be the strongest ensemble, pound for pound, on television, though Battlestar certainly gives it a run for its money. Friday Night Lights will likely be the deciding factor for whether the Emmy nominations are deemed satisfactory or not. If it gets shut out, expect a shitstorm of (deserved) criticism.


BEST ACTOR - DRAMA

Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights
James Gandolfini - The Sopranos
Michael C. Hall - Dexter
Ian McShane - Deadwood
Edward James Olmos - Battlestar Galactica


No, for right now, Kyle Chandler's Hair does not get a nomination of its own, which will no doubt dismay my girl Sarah Blackwood. Gandolfini, McShane, and Hall continue to hold it down for premium cable. I've only seen a handful of Dexter episodes (holding out for DVD), but that was enough to know he deserves a spot here.


BEST ACTRESS - DRAMA

Edie Falco - The Sopranos
Sally Field - Brothers & Sisters
Mary McDonnell - Battlestar Galactica
Chloe Sevigny - Big Love
Jeanne Tripplehorn - Big Love

It kills me to leave Ginnifer Goodwin off this list, believe me. It's a testament to how fantastic Sevigny and Tripplehorn have been that they have stodd taller than their cast mates. With Goodwin and Kristen Bell on the sidelines, you know this is a strong category. Falco finished her Sopranos run as stong as ever. Battlestar's President Roslin kind of faded around the middle of the season, but McDonnell really stepped up at every opportunity. Consensus seems to be that Sally Field stands a good chance at getting a real Emmy nomination for her B&S work, and it would be incredibly deserved. Every week, she's able to wrap her hands around the emotional center of the episode and bring it home for us.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - DRAMA

Jim Beaver - Deadwood
James Callis - Battlestar Galactica
Jack Coleman - Heroes
Matthew Rhys - Brothers & Sisters
Frank Vincent - The Sopranos

In the wake of Deadwood's demise, one of the great things about watching TV is seeing how many programs have employed our old friend Ellsworth. Jim Beaver did such a phenomenal job with that character on the final season. I'm actually shocked that Jack Coleman and Frank Vincent likely won't be nominated, seeing as they're both featured performers with juicy roles on wildly popular shows. Rhys's Kevin is my personal favorite among the Walker sibs and the man deserves some breakout success. Finally, Callis is the cream of the crop and will surely be among nomination morning's most shameful omissions.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - DRAMA

Connie Britton - Friday Night Lights
Elizabeth Mitchell - Lost
Hayden Panettiere - Heroes
Katee Sackhoff - Battlestar Galactica
Chandra Wilson - Grey's Anatomy

I know that Britton is being campaigned as a lead actress, and Lord knows her value to the show merits such a placement. I've got her supporting because...just because. Shut up. It's not like she's any less ass-kicking or award-worthy. Sackhoff is another maybe-lead who is well overdue for some attention. Grey's as a whole may have taken a turn south this season (on-screen as well as off), but Chandra Wilson can still knock your breath out with one punch. Panettiere proved herself to be one of the most exciting and engaging younger actresses since...well, I'd give the three initials of the girl I was going to compare her to, but I don't want to draw the ire of angry fans. Oh, and Elizabeth Mitchell helped save Lost's bacon.


BEST COMEDY

30 Rock
How I Met Your Mother
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The Office
Ugly Betty
Weeds


I cheated with six nominees because I couldn't leave either Ugly Betty or HIMYM off the list. 30 Rock and The Office have re-established NBC as the gold standard for network comedy, but some of those shows' most interesting contemporaries come from cable: Weeds built from a slow start to its second season to a nerve-jangling -- and yet still decidedly comedic -- cliffhanger. And Philadelphia gave the kind of freak-out sublimely funny comedy masquerading as something far lower-brow than it is. I will be ravenously anticipating its third season premiere in the fall.


BEST ACTOR - COMEDY

Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Steve Carell - The Office
Charlie Day - It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Glenn Howerton - It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
John Krasinski - The Office


Baldwin and Carell are shoo-ins, so I'll save my praise for when I'm posting about how bullshit it is that they lost the Emmy to Tony Shaloub. It pains me to include two Philly boys and not Rob McElhenny as well. He's a close sixth. And maybe -- hopefully -- this is the year the Emmys realize how much we all love John Krasinski. Perhaps the idea of losing him to a career of Robin Williams movies will have scared the Academy straight.


BEST ACTRESS - COMEDY

Carrie Aizley - Campus Ladies
America Ferrera - Ugly Betty
Jenna Fischer - The Office
Kaitlin Olson - It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Mary-Louise Parker - Weeds

Expect Ferrera and Parker to get well-deserved nominations. And even though she hasn't gotten recognition thus far, Jenna Fischer's career trajectory tells me she'll get nominated sooner or later. I won't delude myself into thinking Carrie Aizley or Kaitlin Olson have a hope in hell, which is really too bad because they are fantastic comic talents. It kills me that nobody watched Campus Ladies.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - COMEDY

Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother
Ed Helms - The Office
Jack McBrayer - 30 Rock
Michael Urie - Ugly Betty
Rainn Wilson - The Office

How perverse is it that a television academy that gave Michael Richards and Brad Garrett multiple trophies still has yet to toss a nod to Rainn Wilson? He and Neil Patrick Harris both have roles tailor-made for Emmy recognition, they're both superb comedic actors, and just: nothing. McBrayer is often my favorite part of the stellar 30 Rock ensemble. Helms didn't just fit in seamlessly with the Dunder-Mifflin crew, he brought a whole lot to the table. Finally, Michael Urie took on a very tricky character in the sterotypical gay personal assistant and gave him some depth without sacrificing much of what made him funny.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - COMEDY

Angela Kinsey - The Office
Becki Newton - Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins - Weeds
Jamie Pressly - My Name Is Earl
Judy Reyes - Scrubs

That's right, bitches -- Judy Reyes gets an Emmy nod or shit's gonna burn down. Perkins and Pressly -- fingers crossed -- will end up back on the nominees list and rightfully so. They once again spent full seasons stealing every episode away from the top-billed stars. Angela Kinsey really deserves some time in the spotlight after a season's worth of Eva Peroning her way around the office. I'm still repeating "Goodbye, Kelly Kapur" in ominously satisfied tones. Finally, everything I said about Michael Urie above goes double for Becki Newton. She barely edges out cast-mate Ana Ortiz (a perfect world would make room for both of them).

------

It's important to note that, like, only 10% of the actors and shows I've mentioned stand a shot at nominations, while the rest won't reap jack squat on Thursday morning, and that is indeed a shame. I suppose it'll give us something to write about, though.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Low Res Caption Contest No. 009

It's been a looong while since we did one of these, huh? This one comes from my just-completed trip to New York. I ended up on camera at the Today show, not that any of YOU were watching. Jerks. No, actually my sister and I decided to hop on over to Rockefeller Plaza before we headed home this morning, and it actually wasn't all that hard to stake out a spot on the guardrail and wedge your ugly mug in between Al Roker and Ann Curry. It was worth the trip -- we got to see Sarah Ferguson and Adam Levine up close, though our enthusiasm over a possible Victoria Beckham sighting was thwarted, as it was a pre-taped interview. Damn!

But one of the more notable things was how genuinely personable Ann Curry seemed to be. She interacted with the masses in a way I found endearing, and I've never been much of a fan of hers. Of course, it also led to a moment like this:

What to make of this? What's going on here. You tell me. Caption this photo in the comments.

(photo by Emily Reid, by the way)

So How Was Your Week?

Mine was busy, exhausting, rewarding, unreasonably humid...and it ended with me getting an apartment in New York. Here's the back deck (back deck!):

Friday, July 06, 2007

But First!

Yes, Big Brother is back, and this summer, I'll be one of the recappers for TWoP. Truly, a dream come true. Oh, also, if you're looking for even more Big Brother commentary than you can possibly handle, the ever-fabulous Gabriel at ModFab has all you'll need and more.

As for my first impressions of the show:



The one I love.






The one I hate.







The one I want to love, but I worry.






The one I thought I was going to hate, because he seemed loud and obnoxious, but I think I'll end up loving him because he's a total dork who's playing at the crazy-ass whims of America.





The other one I hate.







The one I think I'll end up liking because she's the above blonde's enemy.







The universally recognized Hot One.







The one I suspect is the real Hot One.







The other...







...other...







...other ones I hate.






The one who I think possesses some substance despite her outer resemblance to post-TrimSpa (pre-death) Anna Nicole.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Beyond Actor-dome: Round 1 Concludes

64 men enter. One man leaves.

A few words on the criteria: I'm only taking into account performances from the past ten years (1997 and onward). Film and television performances count. Match-ups will be judged on the following merits: (1) number of performances I've enjoyed (sheer quantity); (2) whose singular best performance is the greatest (quality); (3) if I had an Oscar ballot, how many nominations would the actor have received since '97 (fake Oscars); (4) if both actors have co-starred in a film, who gave the better performance (spotlights stolen); and (5) since watching boys fight is something you can see at the closest downtown bar, this time around we're judging by who would prevail in the most time-tested of competitive activities: The Walkoff (Motherf*cking Walkoff).


Round 1

Daniel Craig vs. Jeff Daniels
Quantity: You know, when Jeff Daniels takes the time to star in a movie that's actually worth a damn (The Hours; Good Night and Good Luck), he's quite good. The problem is he's also making movies like RV and Because of Winn Dixie. Craig, meanwhile, has taken a Shermanesque march to leading man status, from Road to Perdition to Layer Cake to James Bond himself. Advantage: Craig
Quality: Daniels's divorced dad in The Squid and the Whale is something of a masterful narcissist, and while Craig's Bond in Casino Royale was a hit with audiences and critics, it's not quite the same. Advantage: Daniels
Fake Oscar Nods: Daniels: 1 (The Squid and the Whale); Craig: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They were both in Infamous, which I only saw recently . I liked Craig's performance in fits and starts, though I'm not entirely sure all of it hangs together, and sometimes he comes across as a very broadly-drawn Sensitive Criminal. Still, his high marks are more impressive than Daniels, who is good, but not really in a position to be remarkable. Advantage: Craig
Motherf*cking Walkoff: Nothing we've seen out of Daniels suggests he'd be able to work a runway. Certainly not well enough to compare to Craig's poured-into-that-tux suaveness. Advantage: Craig
Winner: Daniel Craig 3-2


Robert Downey Jr. vs. Mark Ruffalo
Quantity: It's kind of a widely held belief that the tragedy of Robert Downey Jr.'s problems with drug addiction is that he's such a gifted actor when he's able to pull himself together, and we certainly agree he brings a presence and a charisma to the screen that's tough to replicate and films like Wonder Boys and A Scanner Darkly are better for it. Ruffalo has ended up in far too many throwaway romantic comedies (13 Going on 30; View From the Top) for an actor with his talents, not to mention big important films in which he was given next to nothing to do (Collateral; All the King's Men). The fact that he's yet to get another opportunity like You Can Count On Me is disappointing, but he's been able to elevate enough of the material he's been given to force a Push.
Quality: Downey Jr. was phenomenal and hilarious in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Just an unexpectedly wonderful performance. Sadly, I can't give him the category as -- have you heard? -- I'm something of a fan of the lead performances in You Can Count On Me. Ruffalo rocks.
Fake Oscar Nods: Downey Jr.: 1 (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang); Ruffalo: 1 (You Can Count On Me). Push
Spotlights Stolen: Fortunately enough, both men recently starred alongside each other in David Fincher's Zodiac, and they both gave fantastic performances, too. Ruffalo, pound-for-pound, shoulders more of the story, but Downey steals every scene, as he generally does. Advantage: Downey Jr..
Motherf*cking Walkoff: Tough one! Kind of. I mean, Mark Ruffalo's a handsome man, but then again he does, more often than not, present something of a rumpled exterior. Downey, meanwhile, is a born diva. Advantage: Downey Jr.
Winner: Robert Downey Jr. 2-1


Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Paul Rudd
Quantity: Paul Rudd is so awesome. Seriously, just watch Wet Hot American Summer, Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and now Knocked Up on a continuous loop and see what I mean. He's an all-star. But so is Jake Gyllenhaal, and he's had more of a chance to show it off, now that he's become the It Boy of his generation. Advantage: Gyllenhaal
Quality: Choosing Jake's best role is a challenge, but I still don't think he's quite lived down the broody and sad work he delivered in Donnie Darko. Rudd's Wet Hot rebel jack-off is spot-on, but Jake's the better here.
Fake Oscar Nods: Gyllenhaal: 0; Rudd: 0. Push
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Motherf*cking Walkoff: I think I'd lose my gay status if I voted the wrong way here. Advantage: Gyllenhaal
Winner: Jake Gyllenhaal 3-0


Jim Carrey vs. Morgan Freeman
Quantity: Over the years, Jim Carrey's career has been pretty sharply divided, for me, between the performances I love (The Truman Show; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and those I have little use for (almost everything else). Most annoying is when he mars an otherwise wonderful movie like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events with his infernal mugging. You know who's hardly ever annoying? Morgan Freeman. God love that man. Even if it's beginning to seem that no one in Hollywood has any idea what to do with him besides sticking him with a voice-over and having him be all inspirational, he still delivers the goods. And every once in a while, he'll get something juicy, which...well, give me a second. Advantage: Freeman
Quality: Okay, so marinate for a moment on Freeman in Nurse Betty, an underrated movie in which Freeman manages to be even more underrated. But see the movie again if you don't remember how sad and sweet and affecting Freeman was. On the other side of the aisle, we have Jim Carrey who, by 2004, had been doing the "two paychecks, one real movie" dance for a while. Seeing a more serious side of Ace Ventura was no longer a novelty. And even still it was hard not to be blown away by his work on Eternal Sunshine. Just keeping up with Kate Winslet would be a hard enough task, but Carrey even manages to carve out more than his share of the film all for himself. Advantage: Carrey
Fake Oscar Nods: Carrey: 3 (Eternal Sunshine...; Man on the Moon; The Truman Show); Freeman: 1 (Nurse Betty).
Spotlights Stolen: Both were in Bruce Almighty, a speck of a film where Carrey aired out his limbs once more, while Freeman managed to live up to his billing as God. We'll say that again: Freeman was equal to the task of playing God. Advantage: Freeman
Motherf*cking Walkoff: Oh, like Jim Carrey could make it from one end of a runway to the other without breaking character and acting a fool. Advantage: Freeman
Winner: Morgan Freeman 3-2


Benicio Del Toro vs. Hugh Jackman
Quantity: Sure, half of Jackman's contributions come from the X-Men series, but frankly, Wolverine's worth it. But it wouldn't have been enough to snag the advantage here without his 2006 output which ranged from the solid (ThePrestige) to the spectacular (The Fountain). Advantage: Jackman
Quality: Del Toro's work in Traffic was outstanding and deserving of the Oscar it earned. On the other hand, and maybe because it's fresher in my mind right now, Jackman's work in The Fountain continues to astound me. Impressive and unexpected and emotional and deeply affecting. Advantage: Jackman
Fake Oscar Nods: Del Toro: 2 (Traffic; 21 Grams); Jackman: 1 (The Fountain)
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Motherf*cking Walkoff: Del Toro has a certain charm, I'm sure. But much of that charm involves equal parts slouching and smoking a cigarette. Meanwhile, Jackman's on Broadway and strutting around Nevada in the Viva Laughlin promos. This one ain't close. Advantage: Jackman
Winner: Hugh Jackman 3-1


Leonardo DiCaprio vs. Jason Lee
Quantity: It's a close race, mostly because I'm not the biggest fan of all of DiCaprio's highest-profile work. He's lucky Jason Lee spent about three years in crap like Stealing Harvard and Dreamcatcher before he found My Name Is Earl. Advantage: DiCaprio
Quality: We're big fans of Lee's funny and unexpectedly touching work in Chasing Amy, but DiCaprio managed to be a strong anchor for Scorsese's The Aviator, and he's really impressive in it. Advantage: DiCaprio
Fake Oscar Nods: Lee: 1 (Chasing Amy); DiCaprio: 0
Spotlights Stolen: They've never appeared onscreen together.
Motherf*cking Walkoff: Sorry, Jason. That extreme sports history of yours won't help you much against a guy who looks that good on a red carpet. Advantage: DiCaprio
Winner: DiCaprio 3-1

Ed Harris vs. Gary Oldman
Quantity: Both men were Hollywood's go-to supporting actors through the 1990s, though Harris has transitioned into a sometime-leading-man, at least when he's directing (Pollock) or it's on TV (Empire Falls). Harris's ability to convincingly play hero or villain -- as opposed to Oldman's perfection of villainy -- probably accounts for Harris's margin of victory here.
Quality: Oldman's work as the ferret-like antagonist in The Contender was probably worthy of the Oscar nomination that went to Jeff Bridges from that film. But it pales in comparison to Harris's accomplishment in his auteur's vision of Jackson Pollock. He was nominated for an Oscar, and in that same year, but he also should have won. Advantage: Harris
Fake Oscar Nods: Harris: 2 (The Truman Show; Pollock); Oldman: 1 (The Contender).
Spotlights Stolen: They were both in the early-'90s crime flick State of Grace with Sean Penn. As you might expect, Oldman's turn is brash and loud while Harris's is quieter and, in our opinion, better. Advantage: Harris
Motherf*cking Walkoff: He's a good-looking man, but Ed Harris has always impressed us as kind of a grump. Oldman, however, has a bit of a flair to him. Advantage: Oldman
Winner: Ed Harris 4-1


Bill Murray vs. Sam Rockwell
Quantity: Yeah, sometimes it feels like Bill Murray keeps playing the same guy over and over again -- in Rushmore and The Life Aquatic and Broken Flowers. Sad sack misanthropes with a serious deadpan. Thing is, he's really good at it, evidenced by the Oscar nomination for Lost in Translation. Sam Rockwell has racked up credits by playing more dangerously cracked (and wrongly sexy, let's admit) characters, in Heist, Matchstick Men, and The Green Mile. They manage to battle things out to a Push.
Quality: Rockwell was on fire in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, but we'll take the apotheosis of Murray in Lost in Translation.
Fake Oscar Nods: Murray: 2 (Lost in Translation; Rushmore); Rockwell: 1 (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind)
Spotlights Stolen: They were both in that bastion of fine cinema, Charlie's Angels. Murray kind of mailed it in, perhaps because he hated his co-stars, perhaps not. The only thing we do know is that Sam Rockwell turned an absolutely nothing role into a hot ball of awesome. Advantage: Rockwell
Motherf*cking Walkoff: We're of the mind that if Sam Rockwell really committed to it, he could be the hottest runway model in all the land. Sorry, Bill.
Winner: 2-2 HOLY CRAP IT'S A TIE! You know the drill: vote your preference wisely, vote your preference once.