Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quickie So You Think You Can Dance Thoughts

Okay, first off: Paula! How hilarious was it that every shot of any choreographer angled to get a clear view of Paula in the background? Also, somebody needs to get her to choreograph one of these years. Come on!

Courtney and Mark
Waltz: Wow, gorgeous. And emotional. That one seriously touched me. Even if they both get eliminated, at least they got to dance that routine. It's been a good season for the waltz, too. Normally it's been a guaranteed snoozer, but this season: Twitch and Kherington, Comfort and Thayne, and now these two. And how cute were they together? They reminded me of Lauren and Neil a bit. But way gayer.

Jazz: Whatever movie these two were acting out, I want to see it. Like a Tim Burton movie about prostitutes, and no one has sex but they all act out their little gothic fantasies. Anything that lets Mark play a character like this is something I'll love, and this was bizarre in all the right ways.

Interlude: The tale of Cat and her gold fronts: holy god, I love that woman. Can I vote for Cat to win the show?

Katee and Joshua
Contemporary: How a man Josh's size can leap around like that, like he's 70 pounds, is astounding to me. That these two are fantastic together is no surprise, but even by their standard, this was great. Two lovers, floating on air. Tyce's best routine all season, yes. Probably my favorite thing I've seen Tyce do ever.

Paso Doble: Aaaaand Josh enters the shirtless derby, better late than never. And my speculation was correct: if anyone was gonna do right by the paso doble, it'd be these two. One of these two is SO winning this show.

Twitch and Chelsie
Mambo: Here's Chelsie, once again dancing circles around her partner, this time literally. She's an astounding dancer and I love her, but I'm starting to wonder if there isn't something about her being not that great a partner. That said, Twitch has struggled with 90% of his ballroom routines this season, so the fact that Chelsie popped and Twitch didn't isn't entirely her fault, nor is it a surprise.

Hip-Hop: It took me more than halfway through before I realized the song was a strings version of Janet Jackson's "Control." The routine was a lot of fun, if not completely mindblowing.

Best routine: Courtney and Mark's waltz (Katee and Josh's contemporary a close second)

Bottom four (do they do that this week?): Twitch, Mark, Courtney, Chelsie

Going home: Courtney, Twitch

I'm so sad we have to lose anyone!! AAAAHHHH!

And So, The Harry Potter Trailer

You know...I don't know, you guys. As Jason said on his own blog, I'm going to need to re-read the book if I want to remember everything that went down in the sixth installment, but the main thing I do remember -- the numerous illuminating flashbacks into the life and childhood of Tom Riddle, aka Voldemort -- is the main thing I'm worrying about in the movie. It wasn't so much a problem in the book because you were just steam-training your way through to see what happened, but now that we know where everything shakes out, won't all those flashbacks seem a little tedious? The fact that I can't remember anything else happening in the book before its climactic final chapters is a problem, I think. This is probably the least excited I've been for a Harry Potter movie in a long time. Which sucks, because it comes off of Order of the Phoenix, which was my favorite movie of the series. Hrmph.

Shhh, Justin, Stop Talking

So, you know I love Justin Timberlake and don't particularly feel the need to apologize for that. But when he starts making a point of saying that it was he, and not Ashton Kutcher, who started the ironic-trucker-hat trend, somebody needs to tell him to shut up. There's a decent chance that he's just having a little fun at Ashton's expense, as he's been known to do -- the SNL skit where Justin played Punk'd-era Ashton is still one of my all-time favorites. But I don't need to remember that Justin used to wear trucker hats. I barely like to acknowledge that he continues to wear fedoras. Maybe he could just talk about bringing the vest trend back. At least he looks adorable in those.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trailer Trash Tuesday: The Lucky Ones

I'd been really looking forward to this one -- Rachel McAdams is always a favorite, Neil Burger appears to be an up-and-coming director after The Illusionist, and I keep predicting Michael Peña is about to have a major breakthrough. Not to mention how it's one of those Iraq movies I like so much but no one's interested in paying money to see.

But after watching it...I just don't know. I like a good road movie, but this one is looking like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles for the soldier set. None of the interaction with the civilians seems authentic, McAdams's cornpone accent couldn't sound faker, and it seems to hopscotch from goofy to harrowing a whole lot. Of course, that kind of thing is more jarring in a trailer. A feature-length film could deal with the tonal shifts more elegantly.

Maybe I'm just reacting badly to Sarah McLachlan playing over the second half of the clip. "I Will Remember You"? In 2008? What kind of confidence can I have in a movie when it's being marketed by people who have been cryogenically frozen since 1995?

All Your Weezers Are Belong To Us

Am I the only one loving the new Weezer video with all the famous YouTube people? Weezer's a band that I tend to forget about for long stretches and then they come back with something new and I'm all, "You know, that Weezer band is all right."

I think the reason I most love this video is that it's a celebration of these YouTube freaks, not a condemnation. It manages to address the phenomenon without being all "Oh, the culture is going to the dogs and nobody appreciates good art anymore and how sad that people are famous for being famous" about it. Isn't it better that the so-called "YouTube generation" is finally exposing celebrity for the side-show it is? Aren't we all better off now that we have to differentiate between famous people and folks with demonstrable talents, and do that hard work ourselves?

There's something about watching the Numa Numa guy and the "Shoes" dude jamming while the Diet Coke jets spray in the background that's really...joyous. It's fitting, I think. Aren't these videos more like happy little diversions during the work day rather than a harbinger of the cultural apocalypse? Thanks to Weezer for helping us all lighten up a bit.

SYTYCD Spoilers

Many thanks to Vance at Tapeworthy for tipping me off as to this week's pairings, dance styles, and choreographers. Says he:

Adam Shankman is the third judge again.
Courtney and Mark - Viennese waltz (Jason Gilkison from SYTYCD Australia) and Jazz (Sonya Tayeh)
Katee and Joshua (Again?) - Contemporary (Tyce DiOrio) and Paso Doble (Jason Gilkison)
Chelsie and Twitch - Mambo (Tony and Melanie) and Hip Hop (Napoelon and Tabitha)

As I said on Vance's blog, I realized after last week that at least one pairing would have to be a repeat, since Joshua's danced with all three remaining women. (Coincidence? Or Josh being awesome and a good luck charm? No one he's danced with has ever been even at risk of elimination. Not bad.)

As for the dance styles...Chelsie and Twitch are probably the pair least suited to each other. Their mambo is going to be a challenge. That being said, I can see their hip-hop routine being their saving grace. I worry about the waltz being too boring for Courtney and Mark to make much headway, but their jazz could be a highlight. And Katee and Joshua's familiarity with each other should be of great help to them in the paso doble, and they've already proved themselves to be handy with the contemporary (though Tyce choreographing is kind of hit or miss).

And if I can't have Lil' C guest judge every week, Adam Shankman will do just fine.

Oh, and P.S.: I'm traveling on Thursday, so maybe so So You Think You Can Dance review this week. Maybe.

'Round Springfield XXVI: The Worst of the Worst

I go up and down on Nancy Pelosi. No, the Democratic leadership in the House hasn't done much, but the fact that Washington's been at a stalemate since 2004 isn't her fault, really. And I'm not one who expected, or even really wants, Congress to go through the dog-and-pony show of impeachment proceedings, so we're okay there. But she also runs hot and cold when she speaks -- she sometimes sounds as talking-pointy as I mocked John McCain for being yesterday. This interview with the Huffington Post, however, where she lays the Right's "San Francisco values" meme for what it is, shows why I sometimes kinda like her.

C.H.U.D.'s been keeping me updated on this upcoming Ridley Scott movie called Nottingham (that link's got spoilers in it, though honestly, I can't imagine that's gonna stay unspoiled for long, but buyer beware and all that), which is a re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend centered around the Sheriff of...well, you've figured it out by now. Anyway, Russell Crowe's supposed to star, which will make five movies in nine years for the actor-director pairing. Five mostly crappy pairings, by my count, particularly if Body of Lies is as godawful as the trailer suggests it is.

Towleroad tells me about an upcoming Showtime series set at Studio 54 in the '70s. Following the template of shows like Mad Men and Battlestar Galactica, the flashy setting is going to be the entry to an examination of the changing times and all the hot-button issues that managed to brush past Liza and Halston as they stuffed their noses. Cast this thing correctly and I'll definitely be in.

Finally, Dave Poland brings bad (if unsurprising) tidings about the third Mummy movie, and in the process, he calls director Rob Cohen the worst director working today. Which is is high (low) praise indeed. Which of course begs the question that I put to you now:

Who IS the worst director working today? Who has had the most prolific and consistent output of pure worthless garbage?

Rob Cohen: the third Mummy movie, XXX, The Fast and the Furious, Stealth, The Skulls.
Stephen Sommers: the first two Mummy movies, Van Helsing, Deep Rising (and the upcoming G.I. Joe movies, godDAMNit!).
Brett Ratner: all three Rush Hour movies, The Family Man, X-Men: The Last Stand.
Uwe Boll: House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne.

Or feel free to write in your own alternate choice.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Positively True Adventures in Casting

Over the weekend, I caught the news that Tim Burton had all but signed up In Treatment star Mia Wasikowska to play the lead in his Alice in Wonderland movie. The thing's supposed to be a live action/CGI blend, so I'm not sure how much of Alice's part will be in Wasikowska's hands, but regardless, it's fantastic casting. I'm watching In Treatment on HBO On Demand this month, and Wasikowska's episodes are my absolute favorite. She's fantastic. Like if Bryce Dallas Howard were ten years younger and had emotions. I'm almost always less enthusiastic about CGI hybrids, mostly because there aren't as many actors to get excited about -- but Burton's gotten off on the right foot here.

In news that's less pure of heart, I saw the trailer for Oliver Stone's W earlier today, which did nothing to deter my from my opinion that this thing is a shallow, juvenile bad idea of a film. But the casting has been pretty inspired for some roles (Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush; Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld). The trailer runs through the movie's sprawling cast, captioning them with the characters' names rather than the actors (which made me have to run to the IMDb to see that it's Thandie Newton playing Condoleezza Rice), and when they got to Karl Rove, I burst out laughing. Cast to play the Machiavellian cretin is Toby Jones, he of the guy-who-played-Capote-after-Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman fame. My glee is twofold: one, I think Jones can imbue Rove with the perfect kind of slimy malevolence; but two, I can't imagine Rove would be happy at the sight of elfin little Jones serving as his on-screen surrogate. It's the least he deserves.

Today's Angel Note

Gwen Raiden! Aw, remember her? I really wish the show would've been able to make a better go of her. Particularly since she was never able to be 1/100th as interesting in anything she's done since then.

'Round Springfield XXV: Morning, Sunshine!

Okay, I may not be getting all of this, but my impression is that John McCain believes in two-parent, traditional families. Seriously, that transcript doesn't even make me angry, just sad. For McCain. Anytime I see a politician so unable to think on his feet, so ill-equipped to engage the debate or do anything besides cling to his talking points for dear's like watching those bad American Idol auditions. I am embarrassed FOR you, John McCain.

Ladies... offers a summation of the WNBA brawl from last week that pretty closely resembles my view. I'd much rather see Candace Parker and Cheryl Ford mix it up in the heat of athletic competition than watch the Flavor of Love girls catfight over septuagenarian hype men. (With the exception of Bootz running past security guards to get to New York in the Flavor of Love II reunion. But that goes without saying.)

Nathaniel evaluates the Best Picture chances of The Dark Knight. I'm not quite there yet, but I so think it's gonna be in the conversation come year's end. Of course, I'm not trying to whammy the movie with a reverse double jinx, so...

And finally, Jason at My New Plaid Pants once again goes totally gaybones for Bryan Fuller. (By the by, ever since re-watching the "Cooter" episode of 30 Rock, "go totally gaybones" is my new phrase of choice. I'm trying to make it happen, just like I'm trying to bring "boss" back. Help me out in both regards, won't you?)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Who's Down For Low Res Book Club?

Or possibly "Joe-prah's Book Club," but I'm not ready to pull the trigger on that quite yet.

EDIT: Okay, we are a go for the Watchmen club. I'd like to give everyone a chance to obtain the book, and I'm going out of town at the end of next week, so let's target MONDAY, AUGUST 4 as the start date. That's when I'll put up an introductory post and we can all start on Chapter I. See you there!

Anyway, we've been talking about this in the comments for the Watchmen trailer, but I wanted to bring this out to the main page: Who out there would be interested in doing an online book club to read the Watchmen graphic novel? I've been thinking about re-reading it in preparation for the movie, and a book club has gotten a little bit of interest. Post in the comments if you're interested, and also if you have any suggestions as to a timetable. I've never run a book club, and I want to do this at the right intervals, where we're not killing ourselves to read six chapters in two days but also so we're not dragging this out and losing interest.

Book Club, Whoo!

12 Movies and a Meme

So Jason had to go and tag me for this meme today, this one via Lazy Eye Theatre with a very simple premise: You're given the run of a movie theatre and asked to program six double features for the week. Fairly simple. The task:

1) Choose 12 Films to be featured. They could be random selections or part of a greater theme. Whatever you want.

2) Explain why you chose the films.

3) Link back to Lazy Eye Theatre so I can have hundreds of links and I can take those links and spread them all out on the bed and then roll around in them.

4) The people selected then have to turn around and select 5 more people.

Here we go:

Badlands (1973)
Boogie Nights (1997)

A pair of movies from genius (though uneven, if you ask my unpopular opinion) auteurs. Badlands is Terrence Malick's first feature, while Boogie Nights is Paul Thomas Anderson's second. The parallels are excitingly numerous, but most prominently, for me, is how they're both such deceptively funny movies.

Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Unabashed celebrations of the interconnectedness of sex and music, and also the destructiveness of getting lost in one's own celebrity. More importantly, though, what a fun time this double feature would be. If I could manage to run these movies on Halloween, it'd be even better.

Aliens (1986)
Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (2004)

Couldn't program six nights and not have one devoted to ass-kickery from the ladies. Aliens because it's the clear best of the franchise, while Volume 2 edges out Volume 1 because of the protective-mama connection.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Jurassic Park (1993)

Time to take advantage of the big screen. These are both movies from the early 1990s, featuring groundbreaking special effects that, in fifteen some-odd years since, haven't lost their luster. This one's an evening for popcorn and light beer, and Jurassic Park playing second will hopefully keep the kiddies away.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Newsies (1992)

So bad it's good? So bad it's bad? One from column A, one from column B? I'm on the record as thinking Long Kiss is one of the best bad movies of my time. I can't say as to where Newsies falls, since I can't watch more than ten minutes without cringing at the thought that I owned a VHS copy of this movie as a kid. Either way, I'd want to make a go out of running it as a campy midnight movie. Who's with me??

JFK (1991)
Seven (1995)

Now that the guilty pleasures are out of our system, onto a pair of my favorites movies outright. I'm not sure what connects these two movies in my head so much -- law men on the trail in search for justice only to find sinister evil they may never be able to fully grasp, something like that -- but they both feature virtuoso work by Oliver Stone and David Fincher. That's pretty much all the excuse I need.

Fug the Poster

All apologies to the fabulous ladies at Go Fug Yourself, but this brand new poster for the Robert Rodriguez/Rose McGowan remake of Red Sonja brings to mind nothing so much as the grostesque fashion stylings of the inexplicably famous Phoebe Price.

Picture that second one with a sword instead of a dog and it gets pretty uncanny.

Godspeed, Rose. My fingers are crossed for ya.

SYTYCD Results

Real quick, and I may or may not expound tomorrow. But for now: WOO HOO! With Will and Comfort eliminated, we're left with six dancers, all of whom I love. Kick ass.

Seriously, any of these six could win and I'd be just as happy. ...No, that's not true, I'm hoping Twitch and Katee go next week, but honestly, between Josh, Mark, Chelsie, and Courtney, I adore them all. Hell, even if Twitch or Katee win, I'll be happy. When does this ever happen on reality TV.

I will say, Will went out with a ton of class (as opposed to that freakout Twitch had when he found out he was Bottom 4 -- get a hold of yourself, dude, you had a 50/50 shot at this happening), and now that he's gone, I find it much easier to appreciate what a knockout beautiful guy he is. If if I hadn't noticed, Cat would have reminded me, as she couldn't seem to shut up about it.

And the best news: Debbie Allen can judge again! Yay!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Score One For Sin

I was on record as being a big fan of Gossip Girl's "OMFG" ad campaign last winter -- I think it had a lot to do with making the show the hot-shit phenomenon it became by season's end. Anyway, the marketing geniuses at the CW (and for once, I'm not speaking facetiously) have come up with another winning campaign, right here:

On the one hand, it's kind of silly. Gossip Girl isn't some kind of lascivious, soft-core sex romp. It revels in bad behavior, sure, but it's not nearly as wicked as it might hope to be. But if the Parents Television Council wants to be all hyperbolic and reactionary, like they always are, I'm glad someone out there is willing to use that hyperbole for a good cause.

And, you know. Any excuse for Chace Crawford's nipple, right?

So You Think You Can Dance Thursday: Top 8

Hrm. The judges seemed to like this week's general output better than last week's, and I'm totally the opposite. Last week had 3-5 dances that I thought were absolutely astounding, while this week boasted maybe one or two that were on that level.

Also? Kind of over the "fer real" hand gesture thingie. Sorry. Have I gone sour after Gev's booting?

Courtney and Will
Samba (Jean-Marc Generaux)
Okay, I officially don't like Will. I can no longer deny it. If Courtney couldn't bring something, anything out of him, I have to figure it's just a lost cause, him and me. But objectively, he's a bad partner. I don't think this can be denied. Of the four men remaining, he does the least for the girl he's dancing with. Yet he gets away with stuff that Mark (or Matt or Twitch) never did.

"Slow" Hip-Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon)
Is this the new name for the emo hip-hop N&T have been doing? I've loved it the two previous times they've done this (Katee & Josh's "No Air" and Mark & Chelsie's "Bleeding Love"), but whether it was the Will Effect tainting me or what, I thought this routine was boring as hell. There was none of the emotion the other two had and it just fell terribly flat.

Twitch and Katee
Contemporary (Mia Michaels)
Great to see that Mia can do fun and funny as well as overwrought and emotional. This made me laugh in a good way. A lot of it looked like wrestling moves, actually, which added to the comedy, for me.

Broadway (Tyce Diorio)
Another fun routine, if a bit forgettable. Katee kind of has a touch of the same problem I have with Will -- I can't ever seem to connect with her emotionally, and she never truly excites me on her own. But these two made for a strong pair.

Mark and Comfort
Hip-Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon)
Wow, they paired Mark with Comfort? Uh...nice to know you, Mark. Why you gotta make me paranoid like this, show? Anyway, loved the routine, though I wish they'd given Mark more to do, because he was totally up for it.

Foxtrot (Jean-Mark Generaux)
It was bad, but not as godawful as the judges made it out to be. But, again, this is what happens when you saddle Mark with Comfort, who has proven again and again to be for shit with ballroom.

Chelsie and Joshua
Argentine Tango (Dmitry)
The two best dancers left in the competition, if you ask me. And wow, Dmitry looks so much like Olivier Martinez. Funny how Chelsie has this combative brother/sister relationship with all the guys the partners with. As for the dance, it wasn't perfection, but Chelsie's aces at this and Josh has chemistry with everyone.

Disco (Doriana Sanchez)
Almost every disco routine on this show is bad. This one wasn't, and all due credit to Josh and Chelsie for that. Some of those lifts got me effing frightened for Chelsie, but all the more exhilarated when they pulled them off.


Nothing too notable or mind-blowing. Courtney's was the best, but it was very similar to last week's. Will certainly threw us for a loop , what with the clothes and all. Good to see Mark back to his old, goofy, confident self. And he was a theatre kid? Go fig! How cute was his little routine with Cat? And have I talked about this show's weird relationship with Celine Dion and how it's affected my life? One of these days...

Best routine: Mark and Comfort's hip-hop (with Chelsie and Josh's tango a close second)

Bottom 4 predictions: Mark, Comfort, Courtney, and Will

Eliminated: Mark and Comfort

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

'Round Springfield XXIV: Picture It...

I missed posting about the passing of Estelle "Sophia 'Ma' Petrillo" Getty, but check out the fine memorial posts from My New Plaid Pants, That Bootleg Guy (who totally ganked what would have been my post title), and the fabulous ladies at Go Fug Yourself.

Towleroad passes on the news that the bitingly brilliant Simon Doonan and his long-time boyfriend Jonathan Adler (he of the unfortunately awkward delivery on Top Design last year) will get married in California. Congrats to my favorite gay couple this side of Cherry Jones and Sarah Paulson.

Sticking with the pink theme, After Elton is talking about that New York Observer story about Old Gays and New Gays and New Old Gays and whatever else. I defy you to even read an excerpt of that article without getting a headache. Can people stop asking me to choose to be one type of gay?

Finally, Best Week Ever commemorates the...I guess nine-year anniversary (?) of American Pie. Whatever, it's good enough for a hilarious post that asks all the probing questions you forgot about after the second movie was such crap.

One More Thing About Mamma Mia!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Capsule Review: Mamma Mia!

Movie: Mamma Mia!
Director/Studio: Phyllida Lloyd / Universal
10 Word Review: Great leading ladies, but Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie something more consistent.

Best Thing About It: There are some numbers that are as vibrant and enthusiastic as the best Broadway musicals. When this film celebrates its youth and beauty and gets everybody up in everybody else's business, it's very difficult not to smile and tap your foot. On the other hand...

Worst Thing About It: ...There are other numbers that are the equivalent of jabbing you with a sharp stick, demanding your attention by being too loud and gaudy to ignore. Some of these songs are filmed like really terrible music videos. The baffling decision to cast Pierce Brosnan, who cannot sing, in a role that requires an awful lot of singing, comes a close second. Did he really bring a whole lot to the table, star-power-wise? I'm at a loss to explain this. Also, the whole Colin Firth gay subplot is handled clumsily, to the point of incoherence.

Best Performance: Let it be known that there are few bigger fans of Meryl Streep than me, and she's wonderful here. But Amanda Seyfried is where it's at, you guys. If there's any justice, this makes her a HUGE star. She gives the best vocals of the whole cast, she's got acting chops to keep up with her on-screen mom, and she's almost too beautiful to bear. If I could legally marry two people at once, I'd find myself a Greek island and get hitched to Seyfriend and Dominic Cooper (and their lovely, giant eyes) and live in glowing bliss for the rest of my days.

Oscar Prospects: Probably nothing. Maybe costumes, if the Academy's feeling an overall lack of HOLY GOD TACKY. Meryl should have an easy get at a Golden Globe nomination, though.

Grade: B-

Teri Garr Should Shut Up and Be Grateful

I promise I'll shut up about Katherine Heigl after this (my promises on these kinds of things are generally not worth much, but I'll try), but Vulture just did a quote feature exclusively on Teri Garr's recent, spectacularly candid interview with the Onion A.V. Club. I can't recommend it enough. Particularly this comment, speaking about the character she played in Tootsie:

"I thought that [Sandy] was caught between trying to have a career and trying to be a sexual woman, and it just doesn't work. At least it didn't in that movie, because it was made by sexist men. I can say that now, because Sydney [Pollack] isn't with us anymore. [Laughs.] But he was a fine director."

Now before you start bitching, of course I'm not saying that Katherine Heigl is anywhere near as accomplished as Teri Garr. And this is of course decades after the fact, and Sydney Pollack isn't alive anymore. But if we start raining shit down on actresses who speak in anything less than calculated niceties, how are we going to end up with such fantastically mouthy broads like Teri Garr? Don't we want more women like this?

Okay, I'm done.

On Loyalty and Brett Favre (But Very Briefly)

Yes, it's the Dread Football Post, and in July no less. Don't worry, it's quick. It also falls into a trend I've been noticing here lately wherein I get curious as to why "we" (fans, media, the public at large) feel the ways we do about our entertainment, and more often the little hypocrisies I find in the reactions to Katherine Heigl or Dawn Summers or whoever. I seem to be on a kick. Anyway, today's question like that is about football.

Because for a few weeks now, the Brett Favre Saga (for the non-football fans, Linda has you covered) has been raging and most of the media has been resolute in their opinion that the Green Bay Packers have an obligation to pay back Favre's many years of gridiron heroics by turning their offense upside-down and welcoming him back from his fake retirement. Fair enough.

My question is this: Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor was run out of town by a monomaniacal GM for having the gall to appear on Dancing With the Stars instead of participating in voluntary team workouts in February or whatever the fuck. This is an 11-year veteran, bajillion-time all-star, and former Defensive Player of the Year. He's also been the only good player on a shitty Miami team for several years. And Bill Parcells spends months taking potshots at the guy before shipping him off to another team and yet no one seem to find THAT behavior disrespectful to a beloved football hero.

So what gives? Is Favre really that much more of a hero? Is dancing on TV really that big of a crime?

Trailer Trash Tuesday: Watchmen

I know we talked about the Watchmen trailer last week, and I also know that I pledged to keep the hype for this flick to a low simmer, lest I become part of the geeky problem rather than the solution. BUT...I've watched this thing enough in the past three days that I need to talk about it. Just a little.

For one thing, YouTube is so totally not the ideal format to watch this. I cannot recommend downloading the trailer for free on iTunes highly enough. With that out of the about the balls on this clip? I love it. I love using the Smashing Pumpkins' alternate version of "The End Is the Beginning Is the End," practically daring people to draw comparisons to Batman & Robin while at the same time making those comparisons look foolish. Of course, premiering in front of The Dark Knight is the easiest way to be reminded that Watchmen doesn't enjoy the luxury of being the realist antithesis to the superhero genre anymore, but I'm already weary in anticipation of all the comparing and contrasting those two movies are going to be subjected to in the next eight months, so I'll leave it at that.

I'd love to hear from people who never read the Watchmen graphic novel and find out what they think of the trailer. There's so little information given out -- and obviously only the slightest hint of the alternate-universe America and its Cold War politics that are so central to the story -- and I'm wondering if the obliqueness is tantalizing or a turn-off.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Capsule Review: The Dark Knight

Movie: The Dark Knight
Director/Studio: Christopher Nolan / Warner Bros.
10 Word Review: The best antidote to the hype was seeing the movie.

Best Thing About It: The fact that it didn't end up letting me down. The pre-release hype, the obnoxiousness of some of its more hyperactive zealots (many of whom are at the moment busy vivisecting Keith Uhlich over at The House Next Door. I don't agree with very much in the review, but the sheer fuckheadedness of the commenters almost has me reversing my position), the creeping sense of obligation to love the thing before I'd ever seen it had all conspired to make me suspicious of this movie that I'd been anticipating since the first promotional images popped up on the internet, what, a year ago? Everybody needs to stop doing this. I'm already planning to temper myself re: Watchmen.

Anyway, that's not what's important now that I've actually seen the movie. And the movie is very good. Very, very good. When I walked out of the theater, the word that came to mind was "full." It's a full movie. A complete one. It paints to the edges. Christopher Nolan's Gotham is a fully functioning ecosystem populated by men and (few) women who have their own agendas and trajectories to follow, and The Dark Knight follows them all down their own particular avenues. As much as it's a Batman movie, it's a Harvey Dent movie too, as he struggles against the mob's infectious corruption and the Joker's unspeakable cruelty. It's Jim Gordon's movie too, as he goes to war with the Major Case Squad he has rather than the one he'd like. The Joker's less accessible, by design, but by virtue of Heath Ledger's performance he's the only thing you can look at, so in that way it's the Joker's movie, too.

I walked away incredibly satisfied by this movie. The story, about a Batman looking to a white knight district attorney to be the face of justice in the light of day, about what the criminal element does when it's pushed into a corner, about throwing your lot in with men you don't trust or understand on either side of the law...there's a lot to chew on. I walked away feeling like I got told a full story -- one that's part of a much bigger picture, sure, but a full story and not just a good excuse for a lot of chasing and killing.

The "best comic book movie ever" discussion is an interesting one, and I'm going to have to defer at least six months, until I've seen it on DVD. I was pretty happy with Batman Begins too, but in the last three years it's grown stale and forgettable in my mind. My current pick for best comic book movie ever, X2, was a movie that knocked me out initially, true, but it was when it endured and even blossomed on multiple viewings that it hit the top of the list.

Worst Thing About It: At two and a half hours, I was expecting the movie to drag, but I don't think it did. It held its own. My lack of interest in the Batman character, relative to how enthralled I was by the arcs for Dent and Gordon and the Joker, probably means this falls short of perfection as a Batman movie, but in the end, I didn't care about that. What bugged me the most was the occasional PG-13-ification of the film. We don't once see the Joker slice into anyone's face, despite this happening, offscreen, several times. For as much as you might say gore isn't necessary, you need to see the blood and guts of what Joker's doing to people, at least once. Worse, every time something bloody was pulled out of the frame, I'd get pulled out of the movie and start thinking about things like MPAA ratings and marketing meetings and how much less money the movie'd be making if it came in at an "R." It's weird, because you see what becomes of Harvey Dent's face, in detail, more than once. Did that use up all of The Dark Knight's capital with the MPAA? See, these are the things I don't need to be thinking about in the middle of a movie.

Best Performance: The surprising thing is that Heath Ledger had so much competition here. It's a strong ensemble -- Christian Bale's Batman might be the least impressive performance of the "name" stars, and he's not exactly a slouch. Maggie Gyllenhaal's kind of a non-starter, actually, but the trio of Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, and Gary Oldman are total knockouts. As I said before, the arcs that Dent and Gordon follow are as central to the story as Batman's, and Eckhart and Oldman are up to the challenges.

Ledger's something else entirely. In all the ramp-up to the movie, I started to wonder just how big he took the Joker. I was happily surprised to find out it wasn't that big. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's a fussy performance, but the Joker's a fussy character. A guy who would type out taunts to Batman onto playing cards and leave them all over town is a guy who sweats the details. Every twitch, every flick of the Joker's tongue or suppressed giggle or lurching step forward is dedicated to one of the major themes of the movie: the Joker as an instrument of chaos. It's a wild ride and, not to bring maudlin sentimentality into a review of a movie that doesn't need it, it's unspeakably sad that there isn't more where that came from.

Oscar Prospects: This'll probably be one of, if not the most hotly debated stories of the year. Just how well The Dark Knight will (and should) do at the Oscars, a place where superhero movies just don't show up. Ever. The Heath Ledger nomination seems set in stone, for good or ill. While I believe the Oscar buzz would have been there whether Heath had died or not, I think the fact that this will be the Academy's last chance to honor him makes him a more solid bet.

As for the rest of the movie...the sky could well be the limit. After the record-breaking weekend, great reviews, and rapturous word-of-mouth (for the most part), it's reasonable to expect this to be the year-end box-office champ. That doesn't always equate to awards, but it certainly makes a lot of people in Hollywood happy in the wallet area. Christopher Nolan is a Serious Filmmaker, too, and an Oscar-nominated screenwriter. Wally Pfister got a cinematography nomination for Batman Begins. Sound and Sound Effects nominations are locks (as should be visual effects and makeup, but those branches get weird sometimes). I could see this getting anywhere from one to eight nominations, and if it doesn't, the story will be that it should have.

Grade: A-

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Out On a High Note (SYTYCD Spoilers)

I suppose if you're going to go home on a week where you gave two of the best pair dances and the best solo, there's a way to put that titular silver lining on the news. And Gev (and Kherington, and poor Cat) certainly took it better than I did. But...GEV! NOOOOOO! He really was my favorite this season, all things considered. I can't really call the result bullshit when all the guys are so effing good, but why the FUCK couldn't everybody else see what I saw? God damn it. I'm going to try to be classy about this, so I'm only going to mention this once that the Nigel-choreographed boys number was a fine, if obvious, love-letter to Will.

Anyhoo, in other news, if Kherington didn't go home tonight, she would've gone home next week. As that backstage footage showed, the wind had just come out of her sails after three weeks of steady decline. I guess I can always remember her impeccable lines from that Viennese waltz.

And I hinted at it yesterday, but now I'm certain: Lil' C is my favorite judge of all of them. Can I just have him show up at my house and tell me that my heart is the railroad that runs between my artistry and my ability? That would be wonderful.

Who Watches the Trailer?

...Well, no one does since Warner Bros. pulled it. But My New Plaid Pants has your hookup, with image after by-God image from the Watchmen teaser trailer, which, as Jason points out, will probably premiere before The Dark Knight.

My favorite shots? This one:

And this one:

Cannot friggin' wait.

Synergy Like an M-Fer!

Something About So You Think You Can Dance:

I forgot to mention this in the earlier post, but it needs to be said: last night's episode featured Journey's "Open Arms," Enrique Iglesias's "Hero," and Michael Jackson's "Jam."

I love that show.

Something About the Emmys:

Here are the nomineed for Outstanding Host For A Reality Show:

Ryan Seacrest -- American Idol
Tom Bergeron -- Dancing With The Stars
Howie Mandel -- Deal Or No Deal
Heidi Klum -- Project Runway
Jeff Probst -- Survivor

So I guess the Emmys' love affair with The Amazing Race doesn't extend to Phil Keoghan. That's too bad, because this list is for shit. Though it does make it pretty easy to root for Heidi Klum. If Ryan Seacrest gets an Emmy, I swear to god. Good news: Tyra didn't get nominated. Bad news: neither did Cat Deeley.

Something About both So You Think You Can Dance and the Emmys:

I bring you the Emmy nominations for Outstanding Choreography:

Dancing With The Stars
Routine: Mambo / 'Para Los Rumberos'
Julianne Hough, Choreographer

High School Musical 2
Kenny Ortega, Choreographer
Charles Klapow, Choreographer
Bonnie Story, Choreographer

So You Think You Can Dance
Routine: Hummingbird and Flower / 'The Chairman's Waltz
Wade Robson, Choreographer

So You Think You Can Dance
Routine: Transformers / 'Fuego'
Shane Sparks, Choreographer

So You Think You Can Dance
Routine: Table / 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)'
Mandy Moore, Choreographer

Dude, my favorite routine of last season got nominated! Awesome. Go Mandy Moore!

Actual Emmy Nominations

So the for-real Emmy nominations came out today, and despite what you're going to hear from disgruntled fans of The Wire (who really ought to be used to this by now), they're pretty okay. After seeing the semi-final lists, these could have been worse, certainly. As you may recall, I made predictions both hopeful and realistic upon seeing the Top 10 lists, so we'll see how the Emmys measured up.

Best Drama Series
Boston Legal
Mad Men

All five shows I predicted showed up here, plus Dexter as a special bonus sixth. Dexter really deserved this nomination last year, but I'm not going to look a gift make-up nomination in the mouth, particularly with crap-ass Boston Legal to bitch about. With Lost, Mad Men, and Damages, this managed to go 3/5 on my best-case scenario, and that's not even counting House, which I am given to understand was very good this year.

Best Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Office
30 Rock
Two and a Half Men

I missed Pushing Daisies for Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I got the other four. This is maybe the worst lineup of the day, with the ever-stale Entourage and Two and a Half Men stinking up the joint. It seems almost too good to be true that 30 Rock would repeat last year's win, but who's gonna unseat it?

Best Actor, Drama
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
James Spader, Boston Legal

I picked 4 of these 6, but I'm way happier about Cranston and especially Michael C. Hall (who should have won this category last year, when he wasn't even nominated) getting in over Denis Leary. Sucks for Kyle Chandler and Eddie Izzard, but I've just started watching In Treatment recently and am very impressed, so Spader notwithstanding, this is a very respectable lineup.

Best Actress, Drama
Glenn Close, Damages
Sally Field, Brothers and Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Picked this one 5/5, which I suppose is the silver lining on the fact that Mary McDonnell, Minnie Driver, Elizabeth Moss, and Jeanne Tripplehorn all got snubbed.

Best Actor, Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men

The full semi-final list never came out on these, so I didn't pick, but this all seems fairly predictable. Good for Lee Pace, that's for sure. So who's going to rob Carell and Baldwin blind this year?

Best Actress, Comedy
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

This category's pretty good, as I went 4/5 on both predictions (missing MLP for Felicity Huffman) and my best-case scenario (where Louis-Dreyfus replaced Anna Friel, who I kind of hate on that show anyway). Really, there were only four possible nominees I could have possibly cared about, and they all showed up. Good stuff.

Best Supporting Actor, Drama
Ted Danson, Damages
Michael Emerson, Lost
Zeljko Ivanek, Damages
William Shatner, Boston Legal
John Slattery, Mad Men

First off, a big WHOOP! for Zeljko Ivanek, my personal favorite nomination of the morning. Very well-deserved. His was the only nomination I failed to guess, and excluding Shatner, the other four were the best of the Top 10, so another well-turned-out category.

Best Supporting Actress, Drama
Candice Bergen, Boston Legal
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers and Sisters
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy

Really surprised that Rose Byrne didn't show up here -- I picked everyone else but Griffiths -- but much like the supporting men, once you disregard the Boston Legal nominee, there are four excellent performers. Christina Hendricks was robbed.

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Rainn Wilson, The Office

Same shit as last year, with the emphasis on shit. NPH and Wilson are awesome, yes, but unless one of them wins, this will remain a blight on the nomination sheet. Kevin Dillon over John Krasinski (and Justin Kirk, and Tracy Morgan, and Jack McBrayer). If Dillon can get nominated for playing a mentally retarded version of himself, why couldn't Tracy Morgan have done the same? Are the Black Crusaders behind this??

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Jean Smart, Samantha Who?
Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty

I shit the bed on predictions (only guessing Williams and Taylor), but happily so given the delightful recognition of Chenoweth, Jean Smart, and AMY DAMN POEHLER! She's a long shot to win, but it'd be a hell of a boost for her as she gets set to star in that Office spinoff, right?

SYTYCD Quick-Hitter

So after last night's show, I am officially worried for Mark. Two poor performances -- off of two fairly crappily-choreographed routines, if you ask me, but still -- and with no room for error on the guys' side of things. That's gonna suck. On the bright side, Lil' C is an awesome judge -- more of that, please.

On to the pairings:

Chelsie and Gev
For a week I've been praying that Gev would get paired up with Chelsie, and the result was the best pairing of the night. Maybe instead of thinking Gev was being propped up by fortuitous chemistry with Courtney we should start thinking of Gev as a fantastic partner. Chelsie, for her part, is the best woman left in the competition, I think. The contemporary routine was awesome (and a good step up for Sonya, whose first routine I didn't get), but that jive was insane. Gev was better than the judges gave him credit for, but Chelsie was frightening.

Joshua and Courtney
Second-best pairing of the night. That rumba was so fucking hot, I swear to god. Courtney just gets better and better every week --she had the strongest
solo of the night -- and Josh might be the best dancer on the show.

Kherington and Mark
Like I said, Mark is in serious trouble after those dances, but they were a couple of dud routines, right? Don't get me wrong, he and Kherington danced them poorly,'s a shame. I have no idea how this show works, in terms of whether sympathy votes end up saving those dancers most in trouble, like on Idol, but it seems like this audience tends to respond better to the actual performance quality. Sorry, Mark.

Twitch and Comfort
That hip-hop routine was NUTS. So, so, so, SO awesome. I don't know if it'll be enough to save Comfort, but the fact that I'm even considering the idea that someone (Kherington?) might be in trouble tells you how good she was. Glad to see Twitch right his ship (his solo kicked ass too -- much better than last week).

Will and Katee
Sigh. I don't know, you guys. I was really hoping the partner switch would help me see Will in a better light -- the light everyone else seems to see him in. And I will fully admit that the dancing on the pas-de-deux was brilliant. But...okay, first of all there were about a dozen things distracting me from the actual dancing, including: Katee's aggressive camel toe; Will's decision to go shirtless for the fourth consecutive week, driving me to once-unthinkable extortions like "Will needs to put a shirt on"; and perhaps worst of all, the effing David Archuleta version of "Imagine." Gross to the millionth power. So, yeah, once again Will dances a brilliant routine and I still kind of don't like him. And if any guy besides him gets eliminated I'm gonna be totally sad.

Best routines: Twitch and Comfort's hip-hop, Chelsie and Gev's jive, Josh and Courtney's rumba.

Bottom Four: Kherington, Comfort, Mark, Gev

Going home: Comfort, Mark

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jazz Hands for Pele

Holy shit, you guys. Tori Amos is working on a musical.

I'm currently trying to wrap my head around this. Though I always thought Neil Gaiman could have written a pretty good companion piece to Stephen King's The Talisman based on From the Choirgirl Hotel. But I've already said too much.

So You Think I Can Skip A Week?

I'd be very surprised if I find the time to give a proper rendering of tonight's So You Think You Can Dance? It's card night, and then I'm tagging in to recap Shear Genius on TWoP. I'll probably pop up with something brief tomorrow morning, but nothing like what I've been doing. So instead I figure I'll just engage in the lazy YouTubing you've come to expect from me and put up my picks for the top 5 routines of the season thus far.

Kherington and Twitch: Viennese Waltz (...sort of) (Top 18)

Joshua and Katee: Hip-Hop (Top 20)

Courtney and Gev: Contemporary (Top 18)

Mark and Chelsie: Hip-Hop (Top 16)

EDIT: I had Jess and Will's Jive here, but while I really liked that one, I liked these two solos more:

Matt (Top 14)

Gev (Top 14)


...I am going to have to call bullshit, once and for all, on this notion of David Wright as some sort of hottie.

I mean, sure, he's the cutest half-man, half-amphibian in baseball, but that's an awfully low bar to clear.

[pics via Kenneth in the (212)]

My Emmy Ballot

Emmy nominations get announced tomorrow, and before we get into the inevitable crushing disappointment, I figure I'd give you all a vision of a brighter day. A day when I am given a say in one of the entertainment industry's least-respected honors.

You'll note I kind of made up my own mind with regard to lead/supporting designations, and I didn't bother differentiating reality shows at all. But I did adhere to the Emmys' eligibility period, which was roughly last June through this May.

Battlestar Galactica
Gossip Girl
John From Cincinnati
Mad Men

Runners-Up: Friday Night Lights; Damages; Dirty Sexy Money.

Before you start yelling at me, yes, I included Gossip Girl. There is always going to be room in my Top 5 for the most purely enjoyable and entertaining show on TV, and as the season sped to its conclusion, there were few shows that I enjoyed more. Honestly, if Friday Night Lights hadn't stumbled so much in its second season, that would be here instead, but here we are.

I'm pretty sure I've made my case for Battlestar and Lost many times on this blog. Both shows saw significant upswings in quality -- and they were starting from a pretty strong position to begin with. Mad Men made a strong debut and has the advantage of being able to deliver a full season before the strike happened. John From Cincinnati didn't have a problem getting a full season in, seeing as this is a holdover from last summer. It was getting a second season that proved unattainable, which isn't surprising since I'm one of like six people who loved the thing.

Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights
Michael C. Hall - Dexter
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Edward James Olmos - Battlestar Galactica
Brian Van Holt - John From Cincinnati

Runners-Up: Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone); Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment).

It's an unexpectedly shallow pool in this category, much as it was last year. And this year I didn't have such easy pencil-ins like Ian McShane and James Gandolfini. As ever, Michael C. Hall, Kyle Chandler, and Edward James Olmos are the class of television. (The subpar seasons of FNL and Dexter were certainly not the fault of their lead performers, and Battlestar's ass-kickery only enhanced Olmos's position.) Jon Hamm made an inscrutable man awfully deep in his first season, and the fact that no one's going to be talking about Brian Van Holt at all this Emmy season makes me indescribably sad.

Connie Britton - Friday Night Lights
Minnie Driver - The Riches
Ginnifer Goodwin - Big Love
Mary McDonnell - Battlestar Galactica
Jeanne Tripplehorn - Big Love

Runners-Up: Glenn Close (Damages); Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters); Chloe Sevigny (Big Love).

So, yes, last year Connie Britton campaigned as a lead and I put her in supporting; this year she campaigned in supporting and I put her in as a lead. But between me and the actual Emmys, only one of us is actually nominating her, so who would you go with? Besides, she was actually given a lead actress's share of the load this time, and she was still the most compelling thing onscreen.

The mere fact that Glenn Close's performance -- one that fashioned a golden statue of Patty Hewes with the words "tour-de-force" etched on it -- didn't make my Top 5 shows how stacked this category is. Much like Season 1 of Big Love belonged to Nicki, Season 2 belonged to Margene, and Ginnifer Goodwin stepped to the front of the line; trying to measure her performance against Jeanne Tripplehorn's Barb is the best kind of dilemma. The Riches suffered in its second season by scattering the family too far away from each other, but Minnie Driver got to the core of Dahlia's peculiar morality. And what more can I say about Mary McDonnell at this point? Lady can rock a wig.

James Callis - Battlestar Galactica
Michael Emerson - Lost
Glenn Fitzgerald - Dirty Sexy Money
Michael Hogan - Battlestar Galactica
Donald Sutherland - Dirty Sexy Money

Runners-Up: Victor Garber (Eli Stone); Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters); Zeljko Ivanek (Damages); Ed O'Neill (John From Cincinnati).

I could nominate five men from Battlestar easily, which should give you an indication of just how great Callis and Hogan were this season. Similarly, Sutherland and Fitzgerald rose to the top of a hearty and accomplished ensemble to deliver hilarious and moving performances. And then there's wee little Michael Emerson, all alone without a co-star. With the way he's made Ben the most watchable character on a very watchable show, something tells me he'll do just fine.

Tricia Helfer - Battlestar Galactica
Christina Hendricks - Mad Men
Yunjin Kim - Lost
Margo Martindale - The Riches
Patricia Wettig - Brothers & Sisters

Runners-Up: Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica); Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters); Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy); Dianne Wiest (In Treatment).

No one on this list was on the list last year, simply because the pool of worthy actresses here is so deep. Nothing against women like Sackhoff and Oh and Chandra Wilson and Elizabeth Mitchell, but with such a crowded field, it doesn't take much to get leapfrogged. Martindale would have been listed last year if I'd have watched Season 1 of The Riches in real time. She was far too scarce during much of Season 2, but she got some great episodes at the end. Helfer had her best season yet as the different iterations of Number Six we finally got to see really allowed her to delve into different aspects of Cylon personality. Hendricks was a sniper from the Mad Men sidelines, and Yunjin Kim upped her already significant game in the all of three episodes in which she was featured. And I've been stumping for Wettig since the first episodes of this season. I don't know how I would have survived that accursed Rebecca/Justin storyline without her.

30 Rock
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
The Office
Pushing Daisies
Ugly Betty

Runners-Up: Weeds; Flight of the Conchords; How I Met Your Mother.

Not a whole lot of new crowding out the old here, save for Pushing Daisies, which, after an incredibly abbreviated first season, is here on promise more than anything. Next season will tell the full tale. Philly and The Office both rebounded from slow starts to finish up strong, while Ugly Betty got better as its universe expanded (beefing up Judith Light to a regular was a big step up), and 30 Rock remains the funniest show on television. That Carrie Fisher episode (and probably the "Gay for Jamie" one too) should go in a time capsule.

Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Steve Carell - The Office
Charlie Day - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
John Krasinski - The Office
Lee Pace - Pushing Daisies

Runners-Up: Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords); Zachary Levi (Chuck); Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords).

Again, not a lot of turnover here, though Lee Pace makes the nominee list a whole lot more attractive, physically. Otherwise, things look a whole lot similar to last year. For the record, Alec Baldwin somehow managed to make himself more award-worthy with that whole Good Times insanity.

Tina Fey - 30 Rock
Jenna Fischer - The Office
Kaitlin Olson - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Mary-Louise Parker - Weeds
Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live

Runners-Up: Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?); America Ferrera (Ugly Betty).

Yes, I know the SNL cast submitted themselves as supporting performers, but you try telling me Amy Poehler hasn't become the above-title star of that show. Anyway, MLP was great even if Weeds started a downturn last season, and Jenna Fischer didn't get enough to do. There are no such caveats for the ever-improving Kaitlin Olson and the world-beating Tina Fey.

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

Runners-Up: Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother); Adam Baldwin (Chuck); Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords).

Wow, not one, not two, but THREE office weirdos! Plus Barney, who can't be a picnic to work with either. Though, I guess Ugly Betty's Marc isn't strictly a weirdo so much as a colorful nemesis, but still. Sad to see even Ray Wise couldn't break the Emmys' embargo on CW/WB/UPN programming, but he was wonderful.

Kristin Chenoweth - Pushing Daisies
Melora Hardin - The Office
Judith Light - Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins - Weeds
Kristen Wiig - Saturday Night Live

Runners-Up: Jean Smart (Samantha Who?); Melissa McCarthy (Samantha Who?); Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty).

Man, what a tough cut-off point in this category. At the beginning of the season, I thought Ana Ortiz would be a shoo-in, but she disappeared for the middle of the season and got lapped by co-star Light. And who doesn't love Jean Smart and Melissa McCarthy? No one with a modicum of good taste. But they just got edged out by the continued excellence of Perkins (Celia was really put through the ringer in Season 3), the misery-incarnate performance of Hardin, and the human mood-enhancer that is Kristin Chenoweth. And then there is Kristen Wiig, who took this season of SNL, strapped it to her Suze Orman shoulderpads, and ran away with it.

Celebrity Rehab w/ Dr. Drew
The Paper
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance

Runner-Up: The Amazing Race.

This lineup is rather blah (ho-hum, Survivor and Project Runway have some more watchable-but-not-jaw-dropping seasons) if not for a pair of the least likely reality obsessions on cable. Actually, I take that back, because the second I heard about the premise of The Paper, I knew it would be awesome. The fact that it was even more awesome than I could have hoped, with a perfectly articulated microcosm of the social politics of high school, was what made it into one of the best shows of the year. Celebrity Rehab actually was a surprise to me, though I should have trusted Dr. Drew to deliver hard truths and empathy when tawdry voyeurism would have probably been just as well for VH1. And then there's last summer's So You Think You Can Dance, which I watched in marathon form this year. No matter, it still easily ranks as the best reality competition of the year.

And Yet More Angel

Sorry, I keep watching these episodes and I keep finding things to talk about. It's no accident that I got my start being annoyingly opinionated on the internet via Buffy. Anyway, we're onto the Connor episodes right now, and of course I recall the vehement hatred that kid got from pretty much all sectors of the fandom. I'm pretty sure I hated him too. But it got me to thinking about another instantly loathed Whedon teen, Dawn Summers.

No two main characters, arguable, were more collectively loathed than Dawn and Connor, and the similarities aren't hard to come by. Both were pouty, angry teenagers abruptly thrust upon a show in a role adversarial to a protagonist who offered back infinite patience to the point of looking like a sucker. The way I saw it, the characters were being written well, or at least realistically -- of course Connor and Dawn were angry brats. Connor spent his formative years in a hell dimension while Dawn found out she was a manufactured ball of energy and subsequently had her mother, sister, and surrogate lesbian caregiver die on her. All that plus they were fifteen and thus given to surly snottiness by nature. Of course they'd act like that!

The problem becomes: does the fact that fifteen-year-olds are brats as a rule mean you should perhaps not focus so much of your show on them? Were they good characters on paper who were just performed poorly by Michelle Trachtenberg and Vincent Kartheiser? Would we have reacted better to them if they'd been around all along?

The fact that I remain curious about this tells me I've yet to get a satisfactory grip on an answer. Why were Connor and Dawn so loathed? Discuss!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

'Round Springfield XXIII

Lots to read today!

Nathaniel at The Film Experience presents his 100 favorite actresses of the moment, in handy animated gif form! Also, be sure to check out Nat's new profile pic, which has him looking both rugged and vaguely ill-intentioned.

Towleroad passes on info about a semi-secret extended cut of 54. Who could have possibly been clammoring for more of that Mike Myers/Salma Hayek/Ryan Phillippee anti-classic, you ask? Perhaps the 45 additional minutes of buck-ass-naked Phillippe doing anything that movies might answer your question.

Best Week Ever gives a good, solid tweak to the ever-escalating hype for The Dark Knight. I have such conflicting feelings about this movie. Despite the fact that Batman Begins faded from my memory unexpectedly fast, I'm incredibly, fantastically excited to see the movie, but the advance hype for it is just...wearying. Everything, every still, every interview with Christopher Nolan, every Oscar prediction from whatever corner of the globe had just built and built and can the movie live up to this, for one thing? But on the flip side, I find myself subconsciously defending the movie -- Heath Ledger specifically -- against charges of over-hype. You know, the very charges I just laid out in the previous sentence. The ramp-up to this movie has made me literally crazy. Schizophrenic. One self-inflicted rictus away from a becoming a real problem for society.

Vulture lays out the psychological chasm that lies between making this a Dark Knight weekend or a Mama Mia! weekend. What would it say about a person if they went and saw both?

And finally, handy-dandy TV critic Alan Sepinwall passes on some excellent information from the FX panel with the Television Critics Association: 1) Marcia Gay Harden will be onboard for the new season of Damages, joining new additions Timothy Olyphant and William Hurt. 2) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns Setpember 15 (fist-pump!), and has been picked up for 52 new episodes, which should work out to four more seasons (double fist-pump!!).