Friday, May 30, 2008

Vexed and the City

This has been bouncing around in my head for a while now, and it's probably too late in the day (and the week) to really dig into it properly, but all the hoopla (and it's been one hell of a hoopla) over the Sex and the City premiere has adopted an odd tone from the start. Which is understandable, considering it's the movie version of an incredibly polarizing TV series. I know women who love it, I know women who loathe it. I know gay men who view it as guilty pleasure, as gospel, and as the grime on the bottom of their shoe. I know straight guys who hate it and straight guys who REALLY hate it. And given the fact that I can't seem to make up my mind as to whether I want to see it or not, I'm certainly not about to cast aspersions on people for feeling either way about it.

But in some circles, the movie's being treated like it's an invading army of strapless dresses and bad punchlines that needs to be endured until it goes away. There's much speculation as to what kinds of audiences will show up (hell, I linked to one such post myself) and how many straight guys will be dragged by their girlfriends and how much you'd have to pay certain people to go see it. And if this current election year has taught me anything, it's been to look for sexism and misogyny at every turn, so I began to feel queasy at the idea of a pile-on simply because a female-centric movie has the gall to have "event movie" aspirations.

I tossed it around in my head for a while -- haven't I, in the past, blanched at certain explosions of Straight Guy Pride masquerading as summer blockbusters (The Dukes of Hazzard, say)? Isn't the Sex and the City movie kind of the girl/gay equivalent of that? This is a guilty pleasure movie, after all, and if you don't happen to get the pleasure of it, aren't you just left with a guilty verdict? Didn't I similarly look down my nose at those who would line up to ogle Jessica Simpson in her eponymous Daisy Dukes?

That being said, I find myself in the position of rooting for Sex and the City to succeed this weekend and surpass all expectations. Not only to keep the gloating hordes at bay, but also in the hopes that a Sex success might open up doors for movies whose core audience doesn't necessarily have to include 15-24-year-old boys. Or boys of any age, really. At least not more than 10% or so. Carrie and Big and company might not exactly be my dream flick, but damn it, that Maude movie could still happen!

SYTYCD: Week 2

Again, I'm kind of treading water through the auditions, but given that in just one week we managed to blaze through Salt Lake City, Dallas, D.C., and Charleston, so it can't be much longer now!

Tuesday's episode (SLC and Dallas) was kind of a non-event, save for Mary getting all crunk in that one dude's face. But she managed to do that again last night, and there were actual memorable dancers to boot so let's talk about that.

Anyway, the guest judge in Charleston was Tyce Diorio, and the guest judge in D. C. was Dan Karaty. Weirdly, I like them both. This is how you know I'm still fresh and new to the show -- I like all the judges. I even like Nigel's increasingly Byzantine word puzzles as he builds up to bestowing the tickets to Vegas. ("I like the way you dance with your heart on your sleeve. You know what else has a heart? A queen. And what do certain thuggish types who choose not to smoke keep up their sleeves? A deck of cards. And where does a queen of hearts show up on a deck of cards? ...Las Vegas, that's right!")

I have to note with some sadness, after one of the loser montages last night, that the "Thriller" dance has most definitely become a tired cultural signpost. How's about we leave that one alone for a while and let it replenish? We could replace it with Janet Jackson's "If" dance, maybe?

So I'm finally noticing dancers who I can see myself cheering for in the competition rounds. Courtney Galliano did this contemporary dance that I found completely beautiful. She seems awful young, but she made a joke about wanting Mary to call her a "hot tamale train" and that made me laugh.

As for Jeremiah Hughes...fuck, I am in trouble. The second I saw him I knew he'd be a favorite of mine, and he proved to be a compelling, if imperfect, dancer. ...And then he started talking. Just a whole bunch of existential dippity-doo. And yet...I'm sorry, you guys. I am but one man. He's got spiritual divinity! He danced to the Goo Goo Dolls! Whatever, I have no defense, and I'm fine with that. There was also no call for Nigel to tell him to button up his shirt, though.

As for the Great Tranny Smackdown of Aught-Eight...I'm of two minds. One is that Nigel was full of shit with his "this is why fathers don't want their sons to be dancers" comment, and Daniel at TWoP explains exactly why. How about we don't let asshole homophobic dads off the hook quite so easily, huh? That being said, I think all three judges immediately sussed out the exact kind of put-on this guy was doing, and their anger was, in a bizarre way, a rallying of the troops around dancers who come by their fagginess honestly. ...At least, I hope that was what was going on. I'm really not psyched about another reality show where the judges are psycho about the guys "dancing like men."

We're gettin' closer, guys! My cable guide says we'll have a Top 20 by next week. And then? It will be ON.

And So: The Lost Season Finale

If you need me to issue you a SPOILER warning after that post title, I just can't help you.

I suppose I should start with the obvious: Jeremy Bentham? JEREMY BENTHAM?! I guess I should have seen it coming, and it did turn out to be an alias, but on a show that already has (or had) a Hume, a Rousseau, and a John Locke, "Jeremy Bentham" shouldn't surprise me. I'll now start taking bets as to how many episodes until we encounter a denizen of the island named Descartes.

So, yeah. I understand that this particular season finale didn't deliver a whole lot in the way of surprises; that the structure of this season, with the flash-forwards and such, somewhat turned the finale into a series of chess pieces being moved into place. But for me, half of the charm of this episode was in the ancillary action that took place while these pieces are moved into place:

-- We knew the O6 get off the island, but it was cool to see that Desmond made it off with them, and reunited with Penny, no less.

-- We knew that the island would move and/or disappear, inasmuch as Locke told us outright two weeks ago. But how cool was it to see Ben don his parka and essentially, as Best Week Ever so brilliantly put it, warped the island to World 6 in "Super Mario 3"?

Some of these faits accompli didn't come across so creatively. Jin's long-foretold (and even longer anticipated/feared -- I'd been dreading this shit since the Season 1 finale) demise just kind of happened. Oh, he went down when the freighter exploded, just as it kinda seemed he would at the end of the last episode. Even less inspiring was Sawyer's swan dive out of the helicopter. Once they all boarded the chopper, you knew Sawyer was the odd man out, not being O6 and all. I actually thought of just shoving Sawyer out the side and you'd have your survivors, but then figured the writers would want something more creative than that. ...Uh, guess not. Yeah, yeah, whisper. Blah, blah sacrifice. It boiled down to an "out you go!" moment, and I'm not even encouraged by the idea that it might be an homage to Waylon Smithers.

But I was largely satisfied by the directions of the plot. Funny that this show that was so often harshly criticized for misdirection and not delivering on its promises is now getting slammed (albeit far more mildly) for doing pretty much what they said they'd do. I'm intrigued by this idea of a succession of Island caretakers (Ben to Locke, with a whole host of possibilities for former caretakers before Ben: Abbadon, Alpert, Widmore, Christian Shepard). And I am very much in favor of a Season 5 following the O6's return to the island -- with loyalties and feelings changed -- and (perhaps) flashbacks to what went down in the intervening three years on the island. ...If indeed three years have even passed in Island Time.

As always, however, the plot considerations are fine (and what keep me so riveted), but a major draw continues to be the character moments. Miles's "What do I mean?" to Charlotte. Juliet guzzling Dharma-brand rum. Hurley's chess game with Imaginary Mister Eko. Everything about Ben and Locke together. I am so very sad that it seems that we won't be getting much more of the Locke and Ben Show, as that's been the best thing on the show for the entire season. Ben's "...So?" reaction after hacking the hell out of Keamy's neck was the perfect character beat, even if Locke (and Keamy) really should have seen it coming.

Yunjin Kim, I must say, had a superb episode as well. I love how absolutely wrecked she was at the sight of the freighter exploding, and the way she carried that kind of angry catatonia throughout the episode. She has also now become one of the more intriguing characters for S5, and that seemingly existential statement from before about how she blames one other person besides her father for Jin's death suddenly becomes quite crucial. Jack seems to think it's him, as he tells Ben as much. But Sun's scene with Widmore suggests it's probably Ben -- if Locke-as-Bentham spoke to her like he spoke to everyone else when he returned, he likely told her of Ben's callous murder of Keamy even though he knew it meant destroying the freighter. Though, who knows, maybe it's Widmore whom she blames and she's keeping her enemies closer. Either way, she becomes something of a free agent now, and the prospect of her returning to the island with Jack, Kate, and company is awfully intriguing.

A few randoms:

-- It really did sound like Claire (in Kate's dream) spoke with an American accent. Subconscious ethnocentrism on Kate's part, or does it Mean Something?

-- Beyond the eye-rolling at the "Jeremy Bentham" alias, I thought it was extremely disingenuous that all the survivors were referring to him by his fake name, especially people like Walt and Kate who weren't particularly paranoid about Widmore spies. Speaking of Walt...holy shit. Looks like somebody's been spending his time since he got back from the island with Roger Clemens.

-- I suppose it was a nice scene on the ship between Sun and Michael, but that relationship was eight hundred billion years and three full seasons ago. Doesn't it seem like the stuff that happened in Season 1 was from an entirely different show altogether? The game has changed so significantly since then, calling back to things that haven't been mentioned since then seems entirely out of place.

-- Why didn't Kate just give Baby Aaron over to Desmond and Penny to raise? Honestly, I don't much care to nitpick this show, but this one's been bugging me. Rather than have to make up the incredulous and fairly ridiculous story that Kate gave birth on the island after being demonstrably unpregnant when she boarded the flight, why not just give the kid to the lovey-dovey couple with the millions of dollars (Penny's loaded, right)? I can't imagine Kate was able to work up that much of a motherly bond with ol' Turniphead in the, what, twelve hours he was in her care. And half that time, Sun had the kid anyway.

-- I am increasingly of the belief that Christian Shepard is the key to this whole damn mystery. The idea that Locke will now be returning to the Island in a coffin much like Christian did intrigues me, and it makes me wonder what, if any, history Christian had with the Island. I mean, if he's the avatar of this Jacob character, why him? He's appeared to people who never knew him in his life (Locke, Michael), so it's not just specific to Jack. He's important in his own right.

So what's the deal?


Emmy Question

No idea if there's anybody reading this blog who would have an answer for me, but I'll ask regardless. I've been listening to that Battlestar Galactica podcast for Razor, and I got to wondering: would Razor count as an official Made-for-TV Movie as far as the Emmys are concerned? And would that even make a difference in terms of its nominatability? Am I getting wildly optimistic if I think that this might stand a better chance with the television academy? That chance being better than the 0.000% chance BSG stands at getting recognized in the Dramatic Series categories where it belongs, I mean.

'Round Springfield XVIII: Rise and Shine

A quick catch-up of everything I'd been reading while counting down to Lost last night:

I have to admit, I was curious about the whole "Mysterious Maple Syrup Smell" thing even before I moved to New York City. So now that I'm here, and Gothamist is reporting that the scent has returned, I worry that I could become obsessed, roaming the city streets with my nose in the air. (And that will lead to nothing but disappointment, I realize. Pungent, pungent disappointment.)

Oscar and the City points us towards the trailer (red-band! yay!) for the new Coen Brothers movie, Burn After Reading. I may offer a more detailed trailer review later but for now, suffice it to say: Bad Pitt and Frances McDormand look like they are having a ball, Clooney has always shone while in the Coens' orbit, I'm loving this John Malkovich comeback tour in 2008, and you know a movie's good when Tilda Swinton and Richard Jenkins aren't in the top 3 of awesome things. The Coens are back to light and breezy fun -- a change of pace from No Country For Old Men, but lucky for us they tend to kick ass at both ends of the spectrum.

The wonderful and talented Jane Espenson directs us towards the Battlestar Galactica podcasts (which I have been derelict in following this season -- I have not been a good geek), which also apparently include a listen-in on the writers' room during the breaking of the pre-season movie Razor. I'm racing off to listen to it right now.

I hope to be up with a post on So You Think You Can Dance later today, but in the meantime, check out Tapeworthy's episode review. I can already vouch for Tapeworthy, having been a reader for a while, but now that I know he liked Neil (and didn't like Danny) last season, I know he's especially good people where this show is concerned.

Finally, and though I am reluctant to inherit this particular whirlwind, it seems that Clay Aiken has fathered a child with a longtime friend via artificial insemination. That's kind of the last piece in the big ol' Clay puzzle, isn't it?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Observations I Can Make While Watching Long-Since-Canceled TV Shows

I have no idea why the Oliver storyline on The O.C. got such a bad rap. This shit is awesome.

I've started DVRing the early seasons of The O.C. for downtime now that I'm pretty sure I've cycled through all the Will & Grace episodes that air eight times daily. It's enjoyable, it's disposable, I can watch it while doing other things, it's actually pretty well-written (at least where Seth and Summer are concerned). It's exactly what I'm looking for. Oh, one more observation, though:

Who the hell thought this Anna person was a good idea? The show already had an unlikeable girl played by a crappy actress, okay? And her name was Marissa.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

'Round Springfield XVII

[I'm numbering the link posts now, both so I don't have a billion entries with the same title and also so I can bone up on my Roman numerals.]

Best Week Ever provides a scouting report of sorts for what you're likely to encounter should you brave the Sex and the City movie in theatres this weekend. Though there really should have been an entry on snarky bloggers who are only attending in order to better make fun of the finished product.

One of my very favorite things is when my pal Jason at MNPP embarks upon a defense of so-called "torture porn." I still may not be entirely sold on the merits of Hostel, but Jason's dead-on on the merits.

The blogs are buzzing today with news of a California poll that shows -- for the first time ever -- that there is majority support for gay marriage in the state. The fantastic Dan Savage takes heart and the usually-pretty-right-on Andrew Sullivan reminds us how and why this is important.

The 1999 Supporting Actress Smackdown may be finished, but Stinkylulu still has one last performance to profile: Catherine Keener's elusive, unknowable Maxine in Being John Malkovich.

Just a Clarification

Reading the TWoP message boards about the American Idol finale reminded me that apparently we all need a refresher course about some things. Specifically, that this woman:

is NOT FAT. Not even when she's wrapped up in gold foil:

Other women who are also, despite many message board protestations to the contrary, NOT FAT include:

this one

this one (no, seriously)

and, okay, fine:

this one.

Though I retain my right to make fun of Tyra for being an asshole.

Capsule Review: Prince Caspian

Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Director/Studio: Andrew Adamson / Walden Media
10 Word Review: Improved, imperfect return sees Jesus Lion get way less preachy.

Best Thing About It: The pacing and the story in general are vastly improved from the first movie, which suffered greatly from a rushed storyline that sapped all urgency from the proceedings. This time around, there was more of a focus on the task at hand, even if they kind of just dropped the Pevensie kids into medieval Spain and called it "Narnia." And outright stole about a billion things from The Lord of the Rings, though that might be attributable to Tolkien/C.S. Lewis shenanigans. Either way, it added up to a better movie. Oh, and like I said above: the Jesus Lion stuff is way less overt, to the point where I didn't notice it. I'm sure if I really read into it, I'd have found something, but so long as it's not slapping me in the face, I'm cool.

Worst Thing About It: There are some nitpicky things -- the bloodlessness, for one thing, which is 100% a marketing concern so the film could come in at PG -- but the biggest problem comes from the moments of levity in the film. By and large, the Pevensie kids and Prince Caspian are a dour bunch. The kids aren't good enough actors to lighten the characters up in an organic way, so the task then falls to the secondary characters to provide the good humor. Of course, in this kind of movie, that translates to a CGI mouse who seems cribbed directly from Shrek's Puss In Boots. I was probably less annoyed by the mouse as I could have been because I was preoccupied in placing his voice. It took me almost the whole film to finally pin it down (Eddie Izzard!), but as a general rule, silly cartoon mice don't belong in any kind of good movie. (Yes, yes, Cinderella excluded.)

Best Performance: Uh...hmm...that's a good question. Anna Popplewell probably does the best of the main characters (though perhaps I'm shafting William Mosely because his Peter is such a perfectly articulated priss). I'm certainly not going to fall into the trap of claiming Ben Barnes was this great revelation, no matter how charismatic his hair was (and let me assure you: it was). I guess Peter Dinklage was pretty cool, though he doesn't compare to James McAvoy playing essentially the same character in the first one.

Oscar Prospects: If it had made more money, it might have stood an outside shot at a tech nomination, but it's kind of flopping (unfortunately due to the crappier original), so I doubt it.

Grade: B-

Penn Badgley Does NOT Think About Sex When Playing Sports

Okay, first of all, I realize I am part of the problem. I'm owning that. I know I'm buying into the publicity-fueled competition between Penn Badgley and Chace Crawford. Further, in planting my flag squarely in the Chace Crawford camp, I realize I'm conflating my feelings for the characters on Gossip Girl with the actors who play them. Though, come on, doesn't the pretty-but dense Nate Archibald go well with the pretty-but-dense Crawford? And doesn't Dan Humphrey's pious judginess match Penn's just-at-the-edge-of-pretentious interviews?

Anyway, this is all in the way of disclaiming that while I fully admit that Penn Badgley soaked down in a wifebeater is appealing to the eye, the accompanying video of Penn talking about what "sexy" means to him is probably the funniest thing I've seen in a week. When viewed through the prism of the (again, media-fueled, I'm sure, probably) story that Penn is crazy jealous of all the attention Chace has been getting (from Tom Cruise, no less!), it's even funnier.

Anyway, enough talk, more sexy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Paper, Episode 8: Come, The New Jerusalem

So I should probably lead with the fact that my DVR cut out just before Amanda got her letter from NYU. Lucky for me, I already know she got in via interviews she's taken and such. It goes without saying that I wish Amanda wild success in New York and hope to see her dancing the robot in one of our fair city's many hot nightspots.

As for the rest of the remains true that one of the most excruciating (and therefore best, under the rule that the best shows about high school -- My So-Called Life, Freaks & Geeks -- are also terrifically painful) elements of this show is the complete clarity with which we're able to see the motivations behind what's going on, even while the kids are just as completely clueless. Alex didn't end his friendship with Amanda because she beat him out for EIC, or that she's done poorly at the job, or even that he finds her personally irritating (though I'm sure he does). Hating Amanda Lorber is what bonds Alex with his friends. Alex is the one they all prefer to Amanda. In the extremely limited sphere of "People who Giana and Trevor and Adam and Dan would prefer to Amanda as EIC," Alex gets to be the MICHAEL JAN. Of course he's going to take that ball and run with it. And look like a total toolbox while doing so.

But seriously, how about Amanda SCHOOLING him in that dockside argument? Took him up the hill and down again, remaining calm while Alex sputtered, and not letting him for one second get away with saying this was anything but his problem. "I think this conversation is over. Professional." BOO-YA! And poor Alex is left with nothing but that weak little "and that's why we're not friends anymore" rejoinder after Amanda was out of earshot. Pussy.

Other stuff:

-- The way Adam's face lit up when Amanda introduced the idea of an all-singing, all-dancing episode of the show is why I will never give up on that kid. No matter how mushroomy the hair gets.

-- Can we talk about the music on this show? And how MTV's dedication to sidebars and crawls and eight thousand things on the screen competing for your attention at all times led to their reminding you that you were listening to the OMD's "If You Leave" and (most gloriously) Carly Simon's "Let the River Run." Amanda as 2008's version of Working Girl? I love the people who make this show, I swear to God.

-- Let's back up for a second, though, because how great was that deadline sequence? Amanda, flanked by the world's shortest posse (seriously, I wish I could find a photo of those two lilliputians, it was adorable), stare down the evil and beaurocratic (and obstructive! By the end of that segment even I wanted to know what was at the bottom of that whole rezoning crackdown) principal, come back with the good news that the issue has been saved, Adam and Trevor both give Amanda props for her leadership (though not to her face, because that would be too weird), and then they all teach Miss Weiss to dance while Alex grumbles pissily. I'm pretty sure that's how I scripted it in my head beforehand, so well done, universe!

-- As for Season 2 (which, last time I checked, hasn't been assured by MTV -- what the fuck, you guys?), I am now hopeful after being initially pessimistic. After all, how can you duplicate the success of this season? You can't revisit these kids in college, because the dynamic will have changed and it'll be useless. You could start with a new batch of kids, I guess, but would I want to watch a show without Amanda and Adam and Dan and Weiss and (okay, fine) Trevor and Alex? I don't know. Then I realized that we left the Cypress Bay kids barely after a quarter of the year had gone by. Homecoming only aired last week. So my fingers are crossed that a second season is in the can that'll take us through the rest of senior year. Then we can spin off and follow Amanda at NYU, Hills-style! Because God forbid she ever be forced to live her life off-camera ever again.

So here's to a BRILLIANT season of reality TV. I say that without a bit of irony. Hats off to Amanda the superstar spaz, Alex the bitchiest bitch ever to bag a girl at a Dave Matthews concert, Adam the benevolent tyrant of the Homecoming court, Giana and her fierce dedication to class warfare, Trevor and his perfect score on the math SAT, Dan and his unexpected enthusiasm for grooming, Cassia and her profound boringness, Miss Weiss for picking up the electric slide so quickly, nerdy would-be prom date Joe and whatever felony he committed to get grounded for prom, the ever-glorious MICHAEL JAN and his utter perfection, and Amanda Lorber (yes, she gets two), who gave us the priceless and generation-defining image of how you end a relationship in 2008. You delete his photos from your camera phone:

It's not too late, you guys! has all eight episodes available for viewing right here. You will not regret it.

'Round Springfield

Overwhelming Positivity is up with its next podcast. I'm not on this one, but Dave and Tara took their show on the road and picked up a pair of hilarious Minnesotans when they got there. The results speak for themselves (including at least one moment that had me burst out laughing so loud I am certain my neighbors heard me), so go give it a listen!

Jason at My New Plaid Pants is up with one of the least bitter Indiana Jones reviews on the internet (I'm not exactly surprised that there's been vitriol expressed towards the film, but way more people hated it than I expected to). But more importantly, he's here to tell us who he saw making out in line waiting to see said movie. Which I find WAY more interesting. Brooke McQueen gets her man again!

Sad news today as Sydney Pollack has passed away. The wonderful Nathaniel at The Film Experience gives my favorite eulogy of the ones I've read today, once which (unsurprisingly) focuses very much on the movies.

Finally, and this is from last week, Gothamist reports on Hillary Clinton's response to her RFK gaffe. And it was a gaffe, I do believe that. It was Hillary's inelegant (and kind of misleading, as is her wont) way of illustrating examples of primary campaigns lasting deep into the summer. But I agree with the outraged response to the gaffe, too. Not only was it incredibly insensitive and tin-eared to bring up the specter of assassination at a time when we're about to get our first black major-party candidate for President, but much more importantly it gets to the root of the real reasons why Hillary is hanging around in this campaign. She's waiting for disaster to strike the Obama campaign, in the form of a scandal (a serious, Spitzer-level scandal) or worse. Robert F. Kennedy got something worse. The fact that Hillary is waiting around, digging furiously for something tawdry enough to reverse the tide of superdelegates flowing Obama's way, is bad enough. To bring up RFK's name while you're hanging around waiting for something terrible to happen? Kind of appalling.

Summer In The City

After a fine afternoon of museuming (this car explosion exhibit at the Guggenheim was particularly impressive), I decided to cut through Central Park on my way back to the train, because, hey, I was already exhausted, why not completely wreck myself?

I'm so glad I did, though, because just as an update for you all:

Central Park is still gorgeous.

And PACKED! Every square inch of grass was occupied by someone or other enjoying the sunshine, or else they were out on the rowboats, or biking, or (shudder) jogging.

And, yes, as always when I pass the Bethesda fountain, my mind immediately went to Angels in America, because my brain is both singularly-focused and movie-obsessed. And ever since moving to the city, I've become more obsessed with that movie than ever, because now it's not just a startling and peerless artistic triumph, it's also six solid hours of geography porn.

That opening descent-from-heaven credits sequence manages to be even more breathtaking:

The Paper, Episode 7: MICHAEL JAN!

I'm going to tell you right now and make so secret of it: I am a believer in Michael Jan (sorry: MICHAEL JAN), the most well-rounded student in the history of secondary education. I mean, think about it: this kid was the first person to really put a dent in Amanda Lorber's armor. She's been able to deal with the back-biting antics of Alex, Adam, Giana, and Trevor with her relative dignity intact, but MICHAEL JAN gets under her skin to the point where she's reduced to petty jealousy ("he's conceited and arrogant!") and the ultimate indignity, going to the dictionary in order to prove his picture's not there:

Though who could blame her when faced with the formidable and "well-rounded" MICHAEL JAN? Did you hear the way Adam dropped all thought of any conversation he may have been having at the moment and bellowed "MICHAEL JAN!" as the man himself walked into the room? I'm pretty sure Alexander the Great got that kind of reaction. Also Norm from Cheers.
As a public service, here's every honor and activity the show attributed to MICHAEL JAN: tennis, track, violin, "art," AP Math, AP Psychology, AP Physics, perfect SATs, Honor Society, web design, "popular," and "genius." Plus, they totally forgot to include how he's Asian and being Asian is so hot right now. How can Amanda, with her hyper-fixated and scary focus on only one extracurricular activity compete with that?

Ultimately, the team-building excursion subplot can't really live up to the rest of the episode, since it includes roughly 0% of MICHAEL JAN, but I suppose it was worth it to see Trevor remind Alex that no matter how big his britches may have gotten in his position as "The Nerd We Prefer To Amanda," he's still a gawky beanpole and Trevor is still the Greek God of Brushcuts (Under Six Feet Tall Division).

And as successful as the team-building stuff seemed to be, I have to say I'm with Adam: that shit is lame and stupid. Yes, I realize this also puts me on par with Giana, but I'm willing to put up with Her Liplessness* in order to chill with Adam and Amanda while the other dorks do trust falls.

Also of note in this penultimate episode:

-- Adam's grades dropped and he's not in the top 12% anymore? That's a price worth paying for the Homecoming King!

-- Dan continues to become more and more appealing, which I never, ever would have seen coming at the beginning of the season.

-- I have to say the Well-Rounded Olympics at the end were kind of unfair to MICHAEL JAN. I mean, where in that montage o' accomplishments did you see "rubix cube solver"? Nowhere, is where. And how does the fact that Trevor (apparently) spent three full years in his basement learning to solve rubix cubes make him more well-rounded?

All kidding aside, though, how perfect was the kids' raging hero worship of MICHAEL JAN? As I've said from the beginning, the appeal of this show is that it's about popularity and power struggles and social dynamics among a self-selected group of a priori overachievers and nerds. And how utterly perfect, then, to have their idol at the school be not a football hero or head cheerleader orall those stupid cliches, but rather the cute, smart kid who does a billion extracurriculars. You couldn't script it better.

Thoughts on last night's second episode (and season finale, sniff!) later on.

* I'm saying:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Smackdown

That right there is my favorite supporting actress in a film from the calendar year 1999. Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer in Fight Club. Of course, HBC wasn't nominated that year, much to my everlasting chagrin. That being said, '99 was an uncommonly good year for Oscar's Supporting Actress category, with a full four nominees (each getting their first bit of Oscar attention) that would have matched my own ballot: Chloe Sevigny in Boys Don't Cry, Catherine Keener in Being John Malkovich, Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted, and Toni Collette in The Sixth Sense.

Lucky for me, then, that I got an invite to Stinkylulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown, where I get to air my grievances (though there aren't many) about the class of '99 and who should've taken it home. Much as I love her, it wasn't Morticia down there.

So click on over, check it out, and make your own voices heard.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sweet Smell of Sexcess

Sorry I'm so late with the So You Think You Can Dance update today, guys. Long day. Long, drowsy day. Anyway, this being an audition episode, I was kind of treading water, and I ended up multitasking while I watched. Not an indication that my infatuation with the show has passed, by any means. I already knew I wasn't going to take to the audition episodes, given how much I loathe them on Idol. But this season premiere had its moments.

For one thing, Mia Michaels drunk off her ass on the first day was a highlight. I must've watched that Freudian slip of hers (memorialized in this post title) about a dozen times. And at least she admitted she'd been into the wine, unlike some other people, Paula. I know people run hot and cold on Mia, but for now I like her.

Know who else I really like? Nigel Lythgoe. It's the strangest thing. Yes, it's kind of weird to see him get all angry at the people who dare to waste his time (he's a producer on the show -- if you don't want the a-holes, don't let them audition, otherwise who are you kidding?), but he's also a really good sport, particularly with the pop-n-lockin' guy near the end.

Speaking of the pop n lockers...I don't know. They're really good at what they do, and sometimes they seem to be able to translate that into something I'd consider dancing, but a lot of this stuff just seems gimmicky. A novelty act. I kept thinking of Cirque de Soleil with some of these guys: talented controtionists, but talented in that 5th-grade-talent-show way where your best friend's talent was being able to dislocate his own elbow.

Hok and Dominic showing up again was a mixed bag. Hok's cool and all, but Dominic drives me crazy. Sometimes he seems like a fun guy, but other times he's like a hyperactive little Rumplestiltskin.

Can't remember any of the good dancers off the top of my head -- and I doubt I will until the actual competition round starts, but as long as Mia Michaels is sloshing around and Mary Murphy is screaming at her, I'll be just fine.

This Is What Happens When You Find A Stranger In The Alps!

So, yeah, despite my claims (and honest intentions) that I had no interest in seeing it, I went to Indiana Jones and the Case of the Crystal Pepsi (tm MNPP) yesterday. And you know? I liked it. Of course, I was unburdened by any kind of expectations, so you totally shouldn't try to predict fan reaction by me.

But I went and saw the movie as part of Dave and Tara's kickass new podcasting project, Overwhelming Positivity. This week's episode, "It's The Fifties!", is jam-packed with greasers, reverse-aging babies, and yodeling mountain climbers. And, you know, the topic at hand: Indiana Jones. I manage not to sound like a complete asshole either, so there's that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Idol Finale Recap

Last one of the season, so please do check it out! Find out why people keep emailing me about Jeff Buckley this morning!

Of course my favorite thing about the recap is that it features the published debut of my little sister, who tagged in for the Jonas Brothers segment. Yes, it does feature talk of text messaging. WHAT OF IT?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Save Me a Dance, You Hunk!"

So aside from an excellent Greek last night, the parade of awesome Monday TV rolled on with the season finale of Gossip Girl as well as, in my opinion, the finest episode of The Paper to date.

Gossip Girl did perhaps the most genius thing of the whole season at the very end there, jumping ahead one week and sending everyone off on a summer that looks to be completely different than what we expected literally the minute before. I love that, whereas Battlestar Galactica jumps ahead a year or Desperate Housewives leaps five years, all Gossip Girl has to do to send these high schoolers (however deep-pocketed they may be) in wild new directions is jump ahead one week. Brilliant.

The episode also solidified my utter love for Blair and Chuck, the finest pairing of a Mean Girl and attempted rapist you will ever meet. As Lauren and I were saying last night, we'd totally tune in to watch The Blair and Chuck Show, with Eric Van Der Woodsen as their shared bestie, Nate Archibald around to sex the two of them up from time to time, Jenny Humphrey as the villainess she was born to be...and Dan, Vanessa, and Serena doing other things as well.

Also, I have a weird respect for the deeply fucked up, yet also oddly mature, Lily/Bart marriage. Oh, dude, Lily Bart! I just got that right now!

As for The guys, for real. Best show on TV. From Amanda bellowing the title of this post across the room (...then clarifying that she was saying it to "Larry," not "Ben," whoever they are), to the improbably and wildly inspirational tale of Adam Brock winning Homecoming King. And speaking of towering achievements, how about Alex wresting the title of Bitchiest, Whiniest, Most Loathsome Character away from Giana and Trevor? Particularly in an episode where Giana and Trevor didn't exactly give up without a fight. But undoubtedly, Giana and Trevor blowing off the newspaper group photo (which: how adorable that Adam believes in the healing power of a group photos? Didn't we all once believe in that?) was preferable to Alex standing for the photo but making sure everybody knew just how much he thought it sucked, before he went back to making out with Girl Alex. [Which, by the way: what was up with that horse-whinny sound effect when the Alexes were making out? I want to buy that sound editor a case of beer.]

Oh, and we can't forget the dance montage set to C&C Music Factory, wherein we got to peep Amanda's stellar robot skillz. And, ever the faithful reporter, Amanda managed to keep her classmates, and indeed the viewing audience, updated on the sweat levels of the guys in the room. Well done, Amanda!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Aw! Shut Up, Danielle.

Yeah, so I watch Greek? I'm not going to hear any lip about it because it's awesome, and I'm not quite ready to talk about just how much I enjoy it (except to say that Kelsey Grammer's daughter is in it, and she looks exactly like Becki Newton from Ugly Betty). But I'm watching tonight's episode and I see the name "Lisa Wilhoit" show up on my screen. That looked familar. And damned if I didn't make the connection the second she stepped onscreen -- Danielle Chase from My So-Called Life! Angela's annoying little sister, now playing Rusty's annoying new girlfriend! The little brat's all grown up...and still really good at playing a giant pain in the ass. Good for her for recognizing her niche. (And good for the Greek hair and wardrobe people for not dressing her up like that there thing to the left.)

The moral of this story, of course, is that Greek totally rules. This isn't even the first MSCL alum to show up -- Delia Fisher (Senta Moses if you're into using her real name, but I don't know why you would because DELIA FISHER!) was on for a few episodes earlier this season. Also Deputy Leo from Veronica Mars as a gay TA and, oh right, Charisma effing Carpenter. Love.

A Recipe For Hating Yourself

Is there anything worse than sitting down with a bright red, pristine-looking apple, anticipating it in the manner one does, only to bite into it and find you've got a soft, mushy apple instead? God damn, that will just ruin your whole afternoon. You have a very specific expectation of what an apple should taste like: cold, crisp, some perfect mix of sweetness and tart, makes an audible crack when you bite into it. The degree to which an apple falls short of that is the degree to which that apple sucks, as far as I see it.

So my question to you, friends, is why am I still eating it? Why have I not chucked this into the trash, told the entire Macintosh variety of apples to go fuck themselves and picked up a Red Delicious that tastes like a proper apple should taste? Why am I finishing this disgusting sphere of mush? What have I become?


Sunday, May 18, 2008

So I Think I Can Watch This

So I'd made the decision to give up the ghost and start watching So You Think You Can Dance even before last season had ended. Everybody who was watching it seemed to be having so much fun! And not even in that guilty, partisan, kamikaze way that people have enjoyed American Idol.

So thanks to MTV, then, for a weekend-long marathon of Season 3, which I used as a primer for acquainting myself with this show I'll be hooked on all summer. Because you guys? AWESOME. As many people before me have correctly noted, the reason SYTYCD so outclasses Idol is the relative talent level. Maybe it's because I have so little familiarity with dance and what constitutes high level performance, but these kids are good, right? Maybe the highest talent level of any reality show I've seen. Granted, I jumped in after the audition rounds, and from what I've heard there are plenty of Idol-esque freakshows there, but once they get down to the nitty-gritty, every single one is phenomenal. Which means I don't have to just pick one pony and ride them through to the finale. Just talking about Season 3, I was actively rooting for Pasha, Lacey, Lauren, Neil, Kameron, and Sabra. That's a hell of a lot if you're talking about a reality competition.

So I'm also surprised as to how much I don't hate the judges. I always thought Uncle Nigel was kind of a creepy old man, but he seems to know what he's talking about and he does come equipped with the compassion gene and can use it when called for. Mary Murphy's screaming is of course obnoxious, but I've come to accept it for what it is: delicious fodder for The Soup.

So then there's the eight-foot-tall collection of weirdness that is Cat Deeley...what is up with her? She seems kind of stupid and she dresses like an insane person, but I kind of love the way she reacts to things as they happen. Nothing at all like the programmed-out-to-here Ryan Seacrest. She really lets herself get caught up in the moment.

So I know you guys are watching this. Half of my American Idol email has been about convincing me to pull the trigger on this show. So talk to me in the comments about Season 3, about the first two seasons that I missed, and about what else I've got to look forward to. I'm all a-twitter!

Friday, May 16, 2008

In The Navy...

Ahh, the Annapolis obelisk climb. Remember, prospective sailors, it takes teamwork, solidarity, and bare-chestedness in order to climb the rock-hard, grease-slicked stone wang.

More Pilot Sneak Peeks

Via, here's a first look at a couple of my more anticipated new TV shows:

First up is Fringe, the JJ Abrams sci-fi drama for FOX. I have no idea what's going on -- looks very X-Files, but merely getting an isolated scene doesn't help much -- yet I'm still compelled. Joshua Jackson is crazy annoying, though. That's going to be a problem. John Noble, however, could work.

Next is CBS's mid-season mystery Harper's Island, which I immediately want to see, even though I realize a premise like this is totally going to live or die on the execution, and a preview isn't really going to tell me about that one way or another. This seems like some combination of Stephen King. Agatha Christie, and that show Kidnapped that nobody watched but me. I hope it's good, but I've been suckered by this kind of thing before: John Doe, that CBS show about the wolves, the FOX show about Satan's daughter. All crap. Let's hope this is different.

Dollhouse Trailer

Thanks to this guy and these guys for alerting me to this.

What do you guys think? Beyond the glee at having Eliza Dushku back on TV, this is giving me a total Alias vibe. In a good way. And it looks like Olivia Williams is playing the Arvin Sloane, which is pretty fantastic.

January, you guys. January.

Last Night's Lost

-- Okay, first of all, I knew that was Michelle Forbes's voice in the previews last week. I have to think she's going to get more to do in upcoming episodes than simply being the Oceanic PR lady. Though, I suppose I said the same thing when Zoe Bell was throwing herself into the bottom of the ocean. But...Michelle Forbes! Helena Cain! She's gotta be part of the bigger picture.

-- I really love Ben and Locke and their Odd Couple antics. They really are like the island's squabbling parents. The only character Ben plays off better is Hurley, as this week's cracker remark proved.

-- The way Sun talked about two people being responsible for Jin's death made me think Michael was that other person. Or, sure, Sun could be talking about herself, but the mood surrounding Jin, Michael, and Desmond in the room with the C4 made me think a whole lot of people were about to die.

-- Seeing how Nadia became part of the "family" in the flash-forward scenes -- accompanying Sayid to Hurley's party, Jack's father's memorial -- goes a long way to explaining why Sayid would be so devastated that he'd join Ben. He really did have her back in his life. Knowing this and seeing this before we'd heard of Nadia's death might have made that moment hit harder.

-- There seemed to be a whole lot of tension this week surrounding the fates of Hurley and Kate and Sayid, which is of course ridiculous because we know they survive. The fates I'd really be worried about next week are people like Desmond and Sawyer. Yeah, it's equally silly to think such major characters would be killed off, but at least we don't know for certain they survive. And there has to be some reason they get left behind.

Anyway, an astoundingly fast-paced episode, but as the first part of what is essentially a three-hour finale, there wasn't any payoff and two weeks is going to be a long time to wait for the resolution.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blogging the 2008 Upfronts: A Viewer's Guide

Well now that the schedules have all been announced, I suppose it's time for me to see where that leaves my poor DVR. It actually seems a little less crowded than last year -- blame the anemic crop of new shows this fall, not to mention the tendency of more quality shows to hold on until mid-season. And after last year's foray into Friday programming, nothing (besides the ever-awesome The Soup) will be worth watching until Battlestar and Friday Night Lights come back, both probably in January.

Anyway, here's everything I'm intending to watch, before the time slot showdowns and premature cancellations whittle this down considerably by the end of October.

8 PM: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (FOX)
8 PM: Chuck (NBC)
8 PM: Gossip Girl (CW)
8:30 PM: How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
9 PM: Heroes (NBC)
9:30 PM: Samantha Who? (ABC)

So, yeah, 8 PM is a problem. Poor Josh Schwartz has both of his shows going head-to-head (if push comes to shove, I'm choosing Gossip Girl, sorry Chuck). I'd like to give Sarah Connorc another go (I lost the thread at some point last season and never picked it up again), but with three shows (and HIMYM jumping in at 8:30), it's going to be tough. Monday, as I mentioned to someone a few weeks ago, really has become the new Wednesday, particularly if cable keeps throwing The Hills and The Paper and Greek at me.

8 PM: 90210 (CW)
9 PM: Fringe (FOX)
9:30 PM: Kath & Kim (NBC)
10 PM: Eli Stone (ABC)

The 9 PM hour might empty out mighty quick if FOX is quick on the trigger with Fringe and Kath & Kim doesn't prove itself unexpectedly hilarious. FX usually offers something at 10 PM on Tuesdays, too, so whenever Damages or The Riches comes back, that'll go here.

8 PM: America's Next Top Model (CW)
8 PM: Pushing Daisies (ABC)
9 PM: Stylista (CW)
10 PM: Dirty Sexy Money (ABC)

Bravo's usually got some queer-themed show or other at 10 PM, so that'll probably go here also. Still, not too bad. Stylista gets all of one episode to prove itself, by the way.

8 PM: Ugly Betty (ABC)
8 PM: Survivor (CBS)
8:30 PM: 30 Rock (NBC)
9 PM: Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
9 PM: The Office / SNL Thursdays (NBC)
10 PM: Life On Mars (ABC)

The usual Thursday night slaughter seems more tame right now, for whatever reason. Still need to figure out a way around the Ugly Betty/Survivor/30 Rock tangle at 8, but that's nothing new.

9 PM: The Amazing Race (CBS)
10 PM: Brothers & Sisters (ABC)

The only problem here is navigating around the Sunday night post-football delays on CBS.

So what are y'all looking forward to next fall? What am I forgetting? Am I missing the boat with a full hour of Cops on Fridays?

Blogging the 2008 Upfronts, Day 4: FOX

Home stretch!

Hit it, FOX...

8 PM: Terminator: The Sarah Connor chronicles
9 PM: Prison Break

8 PM: House
9 PM: Fringe

8 PM: Bones
9 PM 'Til Death
9:30 PM: Do Not Disturb

8 PM: The Moment of Truth
9 PM: Kitchen Nightmares

8 PM: Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?
9 PM: Don't Forget The Lyrics!

7 PM: The OT (NFL post-game)
8 PM: The Simpsons
8:30 PM: King of the Hill
9 PM: Family Guy
9:30 PM: American Dad

-- Fringe is a new JJ Abrams show (good) starring Joshua Jackson (bad) and John Noble (eh) about the mysterious fate of a commercial airplane (oh, really now?) and a long, overarching mystery (uh huh). Lance Reddick and Kirk Acevedo pop up in supporting roles (good), but I wonder if FOX is going to have the same patience for Abrams's stuff that ABC has. Remember, before Lost conquered the world, Alias and Felicity white-knuckled it through shaky ratings and multiple time slots.

-- Do Not Disturb is a sitcom starring Jerry O'Connell about...yeah, sorry, I lost interest right there.

-- The big news is that Joss Whedon's Dollhouse (Eliza Dushku, Amy Acker, Tahmoh Penikett, ELIZA DUSHKU) will premiere in January as the lead-in for the new season of 24 on Mondays. That doesn't guarantee that trigger-happy FOX won't cancel it early, but it at least guarantees it a better fate than Drive. Poor Tim Minear.

-- It's amazing to me how few FOX shows I have any interest in watching. In the fall, without Dollhouse or American Idol, I'm down to Sarah Connor and maybe Prison Break. And the everpresent possibility that I'll start watching House, but as anyone who ever bugged me about The Wire can attest, inertia's a hard thing to break with me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Once Again, The Universe Has Let Me Down

You mean to tell me the news that The Real World is coming to Brooklyn has been out for over a day now and nobody's thought to tell me? For shame, Low Res readers. For shame!

I have to say, the assumption that Bunim-Murray will throw the kids into some swanked-out loft in Williamburg is probably right on target. Which should make for, like, the Alien vs. Predator of urban resentment. Who's going to say that the Real Worlders are a blight on the community when the community in question is already being blighted by gentrification and the dreaded hipsters?

And once again, the Gothamist comments come through for me in the hilarity department. Brooklyn is so over, you guys. At least the parts where you won't get mugged. The muggy places are authentic!

In other news, I know no one's gonna listen to me, but you need to be watching The Real World: Hollywood. Muscle-head Joey (above) is the train wreck to end all train wrecks. Like, it's debatable whether putting him on TV is a human rights violation. He is so clearly in need of deep psychiatric help, and all anyone cares about is keeping his dysfunctional ass in front of a camera. It's...fucked up. But in an intensely watchable way. Also, watch to see how many more people that busted-face hick Kimberly can offend before the season's over. So far, we're at black people, poor people, drug addicts, and strippers. Senator McCain, I think we've found that female running mate you've been looking for!

Blogging The 2008 Upfronts, Day 3: CBS

Jesus Christ, how many networks are there these days anyway?

CBS, ahoy!


8 PM: The Big Bang Theory

8:30 PM: How I Met Your Mother

9 PM: Two and a Half Men

9:30 PM: Worst Week

10 PM: CSI: Miami



9 PM: The Mentalist

10 PM: Without a Trace


8 PM: The New Adventures of Old Christine

8:30 PM: Project Gary

9 PM: Criminal Minds

10 PM: CSI: NY


8 PM: Survivor


10 PM: Eleventh Hour


8 PM: Ghost Whisperer

9 PM: The Ex List

10 PM: Numb3rs


8 PM: Crimetime Saturday

9 PM: Crimetime Saturday

10 PM: 48 Hours Mystery


7 PM: 60 Minutes

8 PM: The Amazing Race

9 PM: Cold Case

10 PM: The Unit

-- CBS has easily the worst crop of new shows this season. If I'm the crazy Jericho fanbase, I'm planning another legume offensive just to protest the shitty programming. Eleventh Hour is another procedural, this one starring Rufus Sewell (uh...pass); The Mentalist is essentially Medium with Simon Baker (again: pass); the description for Worst Week says it's "about a good guy who is always trying to do the right thing, yet something always goes wrong - especially when he's around his girlfriend's parents," so... (pass); Project Gary allows Paula Marhsall to work her show-killing powers for good as she'll no doubt deep-six this Jay Mohr comedy (Jay Mohr = pass). The only semi-promising show, The Ex-List from Veronica Mars producer Diane Ruggiero, loses my vote based on lead actress Elizabeth Reaser (the overused and utterly unappealing Ava on Grey's Anatomy). That's 0-for-5, CBS. At least Viva Laughlin only sank one show.

-- The only new show that sounds halfway intriguing -- a murder mystery at a destination wedding (it's like the lost episode of Murder She Wrote!) called Harper's Island -- is slated for midseason.

-- Elsewhere, it appears Moonlight finally got the axe, which, if nothing else, frees Jason Dohring up to join one of Rob Thomas's seventeen other projects in development. I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder, because I find myself missing the droopy-faced little fucker.

-- How I Met Your Mother lives to see another season, so at least whoring out to the Britney Spears audience was worth it.

-- I keep saying I want to check out The New Adventures of Old Christine, but that Wednesday at 8 PM time slot isn't going to make that any easier.

-- Without a Trace moves to Tuesdays so it can dominate the 10 PM time slot there for a while. My hope is it'll eat into the SVU audience rather than the Eli Stone audience.

Blogging the 2008 Upfronts, Day 2: The CW

Catching up...

The CW!


8PM: Gossip Girl

9PM: One Tree Hill


8PM: 90210

9PM: Surviving The Filthy Rich


8PM: America's Next Top Model

9PM: Stylista


8PM: Smallville

9PM: Supernatural


8PM: Everybody Hates Chris

8:30PM: The Game

9PM: America's Next Top Model (Encore)

-- Good job keeping Gossip Girl on Mondays and out of the Wednesday traffic jam. It'll stay paired up with the unsinkable One Tree Hill. No word yet on how many years in the future next season will be set in order to make things interesting.

-- Speaking of temporal displacement, this 90210 sequel/remake/reimagining is really driving me crazy. I figured once Rob Thomas bowed out as showrunner, I'd be safe to ignore it. But Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs from Freaks & Geeks stepped in, and then Jessica Walter got cast (and as a high-profile drunk, to boot), and the oddity of Jennie Garth returning to play Kelly Taylor (as a guidance counselor!), with Tori Spelling and Ian Ziering threatening to do the same...I may have to give this one a look. The fact is, 90210 is caught in a catch-22. If it's bad, it'll be run out of town on a rail, but if it's some kind of stealth great TV show, won't it seem like a betrayal of the original 90210 aesthetic?

-- It doesn't look like Surviving The Filthy Rich will be getting my business, however. Michael Cassidy will always have my greatest appreciation for being the only watchable thing about Hidden Palms (well, also Sharon Lawrence's roving southern accent), but when the only other cast member I recognize played that awful (awful!) little sister in Bionic Woman, I'm going to have no problem finding something else to watch. Plus, I can only really watch so many shows based on a series of teen novels before I start feeling bad about myself.

-- Stylista sounds a lot like America's Next Top Editorial Assistant and would have me really interested if it aired on any other network. So far, The CW's reality output has peaked with Farmer Wants A Wife.

-- Smallville (with new executive producers) and Supernatural will return to inspire slashfic for another year, and Reaper comes back at mid-season and I continue to decide whether I like it or not.

-- WWE Smackdown! looks like it's been canceled after, what, nine years? End of an era, even if I hadn't watched it in a good four years. Not sure how well the comedies will fare on Fridays, but I'm glad I won't have to wait until Sunday for my in-case-of-emergency Top Model rerun.

-- My understanding is that the CW has contracted out its Sunday programming, which I think means we'll end up with glorified English-language telenovelas like you get on MyNetworkTV. Nothing worth watching, I'm certain.

Blogging The 2008 Upfronts, Day 2: ABC

Oh hell, I'm so far behind on these. ABC, here we come!

[New shows in bold. Thanks to the Futon Critic.]


8:00 PM: "Dancing with the Stars"

9:30 PM: "Samantha Who?"

10:00 PM: "Boston Legal"


8:00 PM: "Opportunity Knocks"

9:00 PM: "Dancing with the Stars the Results Show"

10:00 PM: "Eli Stone"


8:00 PM: "Pushing Daisies"

9:00 PM: "Private Practice"

10:00 PM: "Dirty Sexy Money"


8:00 PM: "Ugly Betty"

9:00 PM: "Grey's Anatomy"

10:00 PM: "Life on Mars"


8:00 PM: "Wife Swap"

9:00 PM: "Supernanny"

10:00 PM: "20/20"


8:00 PM: "Saturday Night College Football"


7:00 PM: "America's Funniest Home Videos"

8:00 PM: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"

9:00 PM: "Desperate Housewives"

10:00 PM: "Brothers & Sisters"

The big news for ABC yesterday was that they had "only" two news shows for the new season (plus the migrating "Scrubs"). That's not a bad thing, though. Not when deserving shows like "Dirty Sexy Money," "Eli Stone," "Pushing Daisies," and "Samantha Who?" get second seasons to prove themselves. Much of this is because of the writers strike, but however it happened, it means that shows that might have been axed to make room for something new are getting second chances.

Note that I said "second" chances and not "seventh." Don't mistake me for being happy to see "According to Jim" on the midseason docket. (Also series premiering at mid-season are "Lost" and an untitled Ashton Kutcher/Tyra Banks project, which just might mean the end of television as a medium.)

Taking a look at the fall schedule...

-- The best news of the day was seeing that Eli Stone got picked up for a second season. After starting off shaky, it had really caught its stride by season's end, and I'm glad we're going to be able to see it play things out a bit further. And getting that plum time slot after Dancing With The Stars can only help.

-- I really like that ABC hasn't shuffled its lineups too much. They've done it this way for a few years now, and it's smart. If shows like Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and Samantha Who? are going to build audiences, they have to know where to find them.

-- Kudos also for putting all the shows I don't watch like Wife Swap and Supernanny on Friday nights where they won't bother anybody. Thanks, ABC!

-- I'm kind of interested to see how Life On Mars turns out. David E. Kelley seems like such an odd fit for that show -- will Jason O'Mara start sleeping with an older woman with a strange disorder? Like, say, narcolepsy? The possibilities seem limitless.

-- I'm hoping that by the time Lost returns in January, they'll have found a better time slot for it than Thursdays after Grey's Anatomy. There isn't much on ABC that makes a good thematic fit with Lost (though if Life On Mars is a hit, that could work), but at least put it on at 9 PM somewhere. It deserves better than McDreamy's sloppy McSeconds.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blogging The 2008 Upfronts: Day 1

Once again I let the upfronts sneak up on me. Unlike my coverage last year, I'm going to take the time to actually go back and cover the Day 1 NBC upfronts.

What I won't be doing is covering every facet of the vaunted NBC 52-week schedule. We're here for the fall schedule and the fall schedule is what I'm gon' give ya.

[New shows in CAPS; data via The Futon Critic]


8-9 PM: "Chuck"

9-10 PM: "Heroes"



8- 9:30 PM: "The Biggest Loser: Families"

9:30-10 PM: "KATH & KIM"

10-11 PM: "Law & Order: SVU"



9-10 PM: "Deal or No Deal"

10-11 PM: "Lipstick Jungle"


8- 8:30 PM: "My Name Is Earl"

8:30-9 PM: "30 Rock"

9- 9:30 PM: "The Office"

9:30-10 PM: "The Office"/ "SNL THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE"

10-11 PM: "ER"


8-9 PM: "CRUSOE"

9-10 PM: "Deal or No Deal"

10-11 PM "Life"


8-9 PM: "Dateline NBC"

9-10 PM: "KNIGHT RIDER" (Encores)

10-11 PM: "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (Encores)


7- 8:20 PM: "Football Night in America"

8:20-11 PM: "NBC Sunday Night Football"

As for the new shows...

My Own Worst Enemy looks like they took Chuck to the next logical step and implanted an entire secret agent into the hapless so-and-so. That hapless so-and-so (and his lethal alternate personality) is being played by Chrstian Slater, who's well past being as adorable as Zachary Levi. Still, it solidifies something of an "adventure bloc" on Mondays, which holds together better, theme-wise, than other nights.

Kath & Kim is the Australian import with Molly Shannon playing that middle-aged tacky divorcee she pretty much perfected on SNL. Selma Blair plays her daughter, and people seem to like her okay. As a half-hour comedy sandwiched in between The Biggest Loser and SVU, I'm not sure how it'll stay afloat, and opposite Dancing With The Stars to boot. I don't think I'd get attached to it.

Knight Rider is a show you may have heard of before. Airing opposite Pushing Daisies and (likely) America's Next Top Model, I doubt I'll be seeking it out any more than that.

Crusoe promises all the timeliness of the Robinson Crusoe tale with the high-octane adventure typical of the Fridays at 8 PM TV audience. Can't lose!

As for the rest of the schedule:

Friday Night Lights (as part of the still-unspecified DirecTV deal), the Office spinoff, and a second season of Celebrity Apprentice are set for mid-season, along with what I think are the two most interesting new series on the NBC slate:

Kings, which is the IanMcShane David-and-Goliath-in-a-futuristic-metropolis drama that I have made the decision to just go with and see where it takes me. Ian McShane, cocksuckers!

Merlin which I believe is an era-appropriate (but stylistically modern) telling of Arthur and his wizard pal. Hell, Anthony Stewart Head nabbed a role, so I kind of have to.

So taking a look at the schedule, I'm thinking Mondays and Thursdays are the only nights that hold even a bit of appeal, and honestly, if I end up losing interest in Heroes, Chuck's gonna start looking awfully lonely at 8 PM.

While I'm on the subject, doesn't the re-launch of Heroes become one of the more intriguing stories of the fall season? After an almost universally-acknowledged underwhelming second season and a very long hiatus, it's almost as if the show is going to have to start from square one. I'm hoping for the best, but it's walking a thin line.

Anyway, Tuesdays and Wednesdays don't seem like they hold together in terms of the demographics they're courting at all, with the only unifying theme being the fact that they're shows I'm not interested in. A primetime SNL offering on Thursdays is...interesting, though if Amy Poehler's out on maternity leave that could end up hampering the show from the outset. A pretty middling effort overall.