Girls, Nudity and Critical Foot-In-Mouth Disease

Lena Dunham in Girls

I’ve only barely watched Girls, but it’s clear from what I’ve seen of it that realistic, awkward sexuality is an important part of the show’s DNA. Accordingly, when Tim Malloy from The Wrap discussed Lena Dunham’s nudity at a recent Television Critics Association panel for the show, he set off a miniature firestorm when he said he didn’t “get the purpose” of all that clothes-free acting.

Although I definitely don’t want to add to the dog-pile that inevitably occurs when someone makes a faux pas that goes viral, I would like to discuss some aspects of Malloy’s “question” that may help explain why this incident rubbed so many people the wrong way.

To provide context, here is Malloy’s quote, transcribed as part of the post above:

I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.

This immediately inspired rage-filled reactions from the combined panel of Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham, and I think it’s easy to see why.

There are at least three things about this “question” that make it frustrating: In a forum designed for questions and answers, Malloy stood up and spoke his opinion instead of asking an actual question, leaving the panelists to respond to the first interpretation that came to mind. He talked about Dunham’s nudity – a well-worn topic for as long as the show has been airing – in a way that implied he didn’t find it titillating because she in particular was naked instead of someone else. Finally, he wrapped up by saying that sexual content was included in the show at “random times for no reason,” which implies the writers are careless and arbitrary about including nudity in the show.

When Malloy discussed this further with Apatow, he was told that “there’s a way to word a question about the reason for nudity on the show and it was not done elegantly,” which got me thinking. How could Malloy approach this topic to both clearly communicate his intent and avoid offense? For the sake of this post, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and operate under the assumption that he didn’t actually mean to personally insult Lena Dunham by implying that she shouldn’t be naked so much.

It’s clear that Malloy feels that Girls has crossed the line into including nudity just for the sake of it. I think it’s a fair criticism that HBO oftentimes seems to include nudity in all their shows just because they can, and it’s definitely possible that the freedom of paid cable would inspire show creators to include more nudity than is strictly necessary. If Dunham’s nudity was surprising or funny the first few times it appeared in the show, does it still serve the same purpose after the newness has worn off?

However, even if excessive nudity might be a fair criticism when leveled at HBO in general, in context it reads like Malloy’s personal reaction to Girls and Lena Dunham in particular. Accordingly, rather than flatly stating what he thought, he should have phrased his question in a way that it might cause the panelists to consider that possibility and address it.

Here’s how I might have phrased this question more effectively:

Nudity and sex have been a big part of Girls from the beginning, oftentimes presented in an unglamorous, realistic way. Do you think that those moments will always be a big part of the show, and if so, how do you avoid including them just for the sake of it?

Two important things here: this is actually a question, and my opinion never comes into it. I’m not telling the panelists what I think, but I am leading them to a possible conclusion. I’d bet you anything that if Malloy had done those two things, his question would have sailed right on through without further comment.

Back to Earth

Just watched the Red Dwarf: Back to Earth miniseries. I didn’t mind so much that it ignored the cliffhanger that ended series eight because I hadn’t watched Red Dwarf in a while and basically forgot everything that happened in the older series.

I did mind, however, the fact that they completely fouled up the sound design for the show. Previous series of Red Dwarf have always had a laugh track, either a live audience or added in after the fact, but this time around they decided to forgo a laugh track to “make it more cinematic”.

Unfortunately, they forgot to put in anything else in its place except for a rare musical cue. Most of the show was airless and quiet, and the so-so comedy fell flat. I’m not saying it would have been hilarious if they’d scored it properly, but I think there’s a certain alchemy to sound design in comedy, and Back to Earth played more like a rough cut that was missing its polish.

There Might Be Spoilers

In a recent post, John Scalzi discusses whether there should be a statute of limitations on spoilers:

If there is, in fact, a spoiler statute of limitations, the question then becomes, well, how long is it? I throw that question open to the crowd, but here are my suggestions:

Television: One week (because it’s generally episodic, and that’s how long you have until the next episode)

Movies: One year (time enough for everyone to see it in the theaters, on DVD and on cable)

Books: Five years (because books don’t reach nearly as many people at one time)

Personally, I absolutely think there should be a point in time where it’s okay to discuss major plot points in a story without having someone scream at you for spoiling it. I personally don’t seek out spoilers, but I don’t think that reading them or coming across them accidentally necessarily ruins my actual enjoyment of the resulting product.

For example, well before I ever saw No Country for Old Men, even without having read the book, I knew perfectly well what happens to one of the major characters near the end of the movie. This didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the movie at all, and in fact it was one of my most favorite movies of the year.

Ladies and gentlemen... I've traveled over half our state to be here tonight. I couldn't get away sooner because my new well was coming in at Coyote Hills and I had to see about it.Same goes for There Will Be Blood. Several of the movie blogs I read were talking about the infamous “I drink your milkshake” scene, and I ended up reading about the basic details of it before I saw the movie. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that nothing could prepare me for the sheer impact of that scene when I saw it in the film. Taking out of context it makes it sound absurd and laughable, but when you’ve followed the characters through the emotional journey that brings you that point, it makes a kind of mad sense.

I don’t think movies are the main source of spoiler accusations, however. With the advent of TV On DVD, more and more people are able to catch up on entire seasons of television shows by renting them or buying them. Within my group of friends, there are a lot of folks who only watch TV on DVD, and don’t even pay for cable. However, along with this trend has come a growing belief that the statute of limitations on spoilers never expires, even if you’re discussing a show that has been off the air for years.

Continue reading “There Might Be Spoilers”

I Need More Sitcoms

The Big Bang Theory

I’ve been a TiVo owner for almost a year now, and before that I’ve had a generic Time Warner DVR for years. Over time some watching habits have become clear. I might rave about Lost or Battlestar Galactica or any number of other dark and challenging series, but inevitably those are the shows that end up piling up on my DVR. I love all of those shows unreservedly, but at the same time I am rarely in just the right mood to watch them.

On the other hand, I am always in the mood to watch a good sitcom. For example, this weekend Netflix shipped the first disc of Big Bang Theory, a CBS sitcom about a group of nerdy academics who live next door to a cute blonde. It’s a silly show, but it’s a lot of fun, and I ended up popping it in my DVD player as soon as I received it and didn’t stop watching until all six episodes on the disc had played out. Once I was done with that, I wanted to watch more, so I went out on a quest to buy the first season on DVD (I didn’t know it was going to be a quest at first, but it was sold out at the first four places I went).

I just got done watching the remaining 11 episodes from the first season in basically one sitting. Sure, every episode was only about 22 minutes long, but I haven’t had a TV marathon like that in years. I used to be the guy who would finish an entire season of Buffy in one weekend, but I don’t quite have the stamina for that anymore… except when it comes to sitcoms, apparently.

The problem, however, is that there aren’t many new sitcoms being made these days, and there are only so many really strong shows out there worth following. NBC’s lineup is the strongest – 30 Rock, The Office, and to a lesser degree My Name is Earl. CBS has How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory, ABC has Samantha Who and Scrubs, and TBS has My Boys. I love all of those shows, but I’m basically current on almost all of them (except for Big Bang Theory).

The number of times I am in the mood to sit down and watch a good sitcom far outweighs the number of worthwhile sitcoms available for me to watch. I’m in no mood to start watching any of the “Stupid Husband Annoys Pretty Wife” shows that make up the entire rest of the sitcom landscape, but I need more things to watch. I’ve definitely searched out as many good British sitcoms as are available, but this is definitely a case where the British tradition of “6 episodes a season for 2 seasons total” gets on my nerves. I’ve already watched every episode of Spaced, Extras, The Office UK, Black Books, and The IT Crowd ever produced.

I suppose what this really comes down to is a call for more new shows and maybe a few good suggestions for existing shows I may have missed. I’m firmly convinced that there are still worthwhile things to be done in the world of sitcoms, even in multi-camera shows with a laugh track, so I just wish the networks were more willing to produce new sitcom pilots. I don’t necessarily mind the move towards hour-long comedies like Chuck, Ugly Betty, and others, but there’s something to be said for shows that can be consumed in 22 minutes while I eat my dinner. It’s great that there has been an amazing renaissance in the general quality of television today, but it seems like it has come at the expense of the good old fashioned American sitcom. It’s a shame, really.

At least I have another season of Big Bang Theory to keep me busy for a little while…

The “Lost” Legacy of Heroes

Heroes continues to occupy my mind this week. I think that’s another good sign that it’s a show worth watching. The shows that I end up removing from my recording schedule are the ones that I don’t care about, that I don’t miss when they’re gone.

Heroes, lurching monster that is is, is still compelling enough that it keeps me rehashing its convoluted story-lines around the metaphorical water-cooler we call the internet.

Accordingly, something that has been occupying my mind this week is the giant influence that Lost has had on network TV in general and Heroes in particular. Heroes is one of several shows that were created in the wake of the initial huge (and unexpected) success of Lost. Suddenly every network had its own ensemble show with complex story-lines, flashbacks, and the occasional hint of science-fictional doings. Most of these shows disappeared fairly quickly.

Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure that Heroes is the only “post-Lost” show still on the air. I qualify it as a “post-Lost” show simply because its debt to Lost is right out there, front-and-center. However, rather than outgrowing its debts and influences over time and coming into its own, Heroes seems to be slowly collapsing under the weight of its creative debts. There are a few aspects of the show that seem particularly drawn from Lost, for better or worse, and I’ll break them down after the jump.

Continue reading “The “Lost” Legacy of Heroes”

Who watches The Watchmen? Definitely not the Heroes writers.

First off: a disclaimer. I’m going to discuss this week’s Heroes’ episode in my post, so if you’re spoiler averse, please stop reading now.

With that out of the way, I think those of us who are current on the newest season of Heroes can all safely agree that the show is a complete mess. By the same token, I think if you are current on the show, it’s because there’s still something about it that keeps you hooked and ready for the next episode. It’s almost as if it has some kind of charisma that makes you want to forgive its plot-holes and serious lapses in writing.

It’s why I keep watching, and keep hoping that the writing will rise above the current level and the writers will avoid any serious lapses in logic or character motivation. I have a feeling I will continue to get my hopes up only to have them dashed yet again.

This week’s episode, “Villains”, was a particularly good example. It focused entirely on a flashback seen through the eyes of a “dream-walking” Hiro. It was nice to have an episode that centered on characterization as opposed to express-train “save the world” plotlines, but at the same time it only introduced more serious logical lapses to an already overstuffed storyline.

Considering how this season has been received in the press and by fans, this episode felt like a last-ditch effort to remind the folks at home about the good times from season one. A number of familiar plot points from the first season were revisited and fleshed out from new perspectives. For the most part these details weren’t much more than filler, but one storyline did at least have an interesting premise, namely that Sylar’s descent into murder and mayhem wasn’t entirely his own doing.

Essentially the roles are reversed here, with Noah Bennett as the manipulative Company man (“villain”) who wants Sylar to keep killing so that they can study him, and Sylar as the relative innocent (“hero”) who truly regrets his initial act of violence and tries to commit suicide out of guilt. Sylar is a fascinating character, and I do like seeing more of his backstory, but I do wish that it didn’t have to come at the cost of the imposing air of menace he cultivated throughout seasons one and two. That isn’t my biggest problem with this storyline, however; my real issue is with the involvement of Kristen Bell’s character, Elle.

In this flashback storyline, we are told that Bennet and Elle partnered together to study Sylar. Elle was sent in undercover to draw him out of his shell by befriending him. She has second thoughts, however, and begins to have sympathy for Sylar as they become close, and she asks Bennett to back off.

The big disconnect is that when we meet Elle for the first time in season two, she is a daddy’s girl and an immature mess, completely sheltered and reliant on The Company for everything. In her scenes here, she seems much more in-control and mature, not to mention moral. In addition to that complete change in character, there are scenes later in season two where Elle saves several characters from a rampaging Sylar. I don’t have the episode in front of me to watch, but from what I remember there wasn’t even a hint of a shared history when they confronted each other.

You could, perhaps, explain some of this away as a case of a serious mind-wipe or manipulation performed on Elle so that she doesn’t remember what happened with Sylar, but that seems like a lazy explanation for what is, on the whole, half-assed writing. This particular storyline felt like it had some potential to be interesting, but it barely stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Overall, this week’s episode amounted to nothing more than plotholes interrupted by filler.

In conclusion, I think Heroes is best appreciated when you don’t analyze it too closely. I liked this week’s episode a lot more when I first started writing this post, and my opinion seriously went downhill from there. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching, though. Shameful, really…

Mad + Burn

Television is pretty slow this summer thanks to the lingering effects of the writer’s strike, but there are a few gems worth checking out on cable. In fact, I’d argue that two of the best returning shows are premiering this summer.

Tonight is the second season premiere of Burn Notice, which was one of the most fun shows that premiered last year. If you aren’t familiar with the premise, it’s about a spy who gets a “burn notice” – basically, he’s fired in spy terms – and is marooned in Miami. As he spends his time trying to figure out why he got burned, he solves mysteries and helps people. It’s a good combination of action, comedy and drama.

As I’m posting this, the premiere has just wrapped up, but they’ll replay it this week, and it’ll probably be available on hulu.com very soon. Here’s a trailer for the second season:

The other highly buzzed show premiering its second season this summer is Mad Men. I’ve been telling everyone I know how great this show is. It’s about advertising executives in the 1960s, and it’s pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. Here are two trailers that do a good job of getting across the style of the show:

The Beast With a Billion Backs

(Kind of crappy quality… hopefully they’ll release a better version soon.)

Whoa, AMC Keeps Making Incredible Television

I already knew they had something good going after watching Mad Men (5 episodes left to go on my DVR), but check out the promotional images they’ve released for their new show, Breaking Bad, which premieres in January 2008:

Breaking Bad promo image

According to the site, the premise is as follows: “AMC’s addictive new series, Breaking Bad, is a darkly comic drama that captures life at a moment of irrevocable change. In the ultimate mid-life crisis, a high school chemistry teacher takes a match to his straight-laced existence – turning a used Winnebago into a rolling meth lab. Everyday life combusts in this uncontrolled experiment with the American dream.”

Not only that, but it stars Bryan Cranston, the dad from Malcolm in the Middle (I didn’t recognize him at first!) I think AMC might be turning into the new FX as far as edgy dramas go. Hopefully they’ll release a trailer soon.

Welcome Back, TV Premiere Season

Here we are again… another year, and even more new shows to watch and watch fail. In the past few years I’ve paid much closer attention to the premiering shows, and I tend to check out anything with promise.

Of course, this means that I also end up watching plenty of shows that get canceled. Studio 60 is the most prominent example, of course, but I also watched Smith (I could tell after the pilot that it was done for), Help Me Help You (I had actually forgotten about this show), and Andy Barker PI. Studio 60 is the only one I really miss, but I started missing it a few episodes in after it never quite matched the promise of the pilot. It would also be nice if Andy Richter could find himself a successful show.

Earlier in the week I had a more ambitious goal to write a full review of every new show I watch, but I’m scaling that back a bit because I’m feeling lazy. I have, however, decided to rank the new shows I’ve watched so far:

Sam and The Devil1. Reaper – This is a must-see. The creators did a good job of establishing likable characters and the humor is right on target. The premise is dealt with in a fairly absurd way (“Sorry about that, son… we sold your soul to the devil to save your dad’s life!”), but overall that works for the tone of this show.

The actress who plays the love interest didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the show, but she was a late addition, replacing another actress, so hopefully things will gel more in later episodes. In fact, the most negative review of this show on MetaCritic says that “Reaper is strictly for fans of movies like Superbad.” How can you go wrong with that?

The main character from Journeyman2. Journeyman – I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this show. It gets major points for throwing in a completely unexpected twist, which is pretty impressive for a brand new show. I also liked that the character was resourceful enough to deal with the problems that time-jumping could cause for his life and marriage in the present.

I’ve read it did terribly in the ratings, however, so it may not be long for this world. Hopefully it’ll get some buzz and start holding on to more of the lead-in from Heroes. If you missed the premiere, you can watch the whole thing on NBC’s website, or you can buy it on the iTunes store, thanks to the funny ways of television production (just because it airs on NBC doesn’t mean it was produced by NBC).

Chuck at Buy More3. Chuck – This show was highly entertaining, but only if you can ignore the serious gaps in logic in the setup. Somehow Chuck is sent an email full of a huge number “encrypted images” that contain intelligence from the NSA and the CIA. When he watches a slideshow of these images (it apparently takes all night) he wakes up with a brain full of crazy intelligence that has been interpreted by the computer that the images were stolen from.

This raises major questions, like: How was someone able to send an “email” full of millions of images and possibly terabytes of data? Why on earth did the NSA and the CIA put “all of their secrets” together on one computer? Why did they encode all of these secrets into images? Was it some kind of secret training program, i.e. a more efficient way of teaching someone intelligence data? That would certainly make slightly more sense than the explanation given in the pilot.

I sound pretty negative about Chuck, I know, but I really did laugh a lot, and all of the previews make future episodes look even better. Maybe they’ll do a better job of explaining the premise in later episodes, or maybe I’ll stop caring if the show just gets generally better. I’d also accept it if they started making fun of their own premise. It would be more in line with the style of creator Josh Schwartz’s previous show – The OC.

Katee Sackhoff, the best thing in Bionic Woman4. Bionic Woman – The problem with this one is just that Katee Sackhoff is too damn awesome. In a perfect world, she would play the main character, but only if it meant she could also finish Battlestar Galactica.

Michelle Ryan as Jaime Somers is certainly nice to look at, but didn’t really hold her own against Sackhoff in the pilot. Some of the dialog was fairly clunky, especially her speech at the end of the episode. I wonder how much of this can be chalked up to a British actress trying to do an American accent – not everyone can be Hugh Laurie or Colin Farrell, after all. This show wasn’t a complete disappointment, but it definitely did not live up to my expectations. I’ll keep watching for as long as it is on air to see if it improves.

Other than those four shows, I’ve also got Dirty Sexy Money and Gossip Girl waiting to be watched, and this upcoming week I’m recording: Cavemen (too awful-sounding to miss), Carpoolers, and Pushing Daisies. Pushing Daisies has been getting ecstatic reviews, so I hope it lives up to the hype.

The Leet World, or “When Talking About Making Something Turns Into Actually Doing It”

I’m not sure why I didn’t post about this before, considering I spent almost the entire weekend working on the website, but some friends of mine that go way back – Eddy, Nick, and Daniel, to be exact – recently starting working on putting into motion an idea that had been percolating for years.

There has always been talk in our circle of friends about making movies, but one idea in particular stuck around for a long time. The premise was simple: make an ongoing series of short films/episodes about a bunch of characters from a video game (Counter-Strike) who are placed in a Real World-style house and see what happens.

The premise is possible because of a phenomenon called machinima, which means using the graphics/animation from video games to render animated short films. The most popular and well-known example of this phenomenon is a show called Red vs. Blue.

In any case, Smooth Few Films, as they are collectively known, actually got to the point where they could produce a trailer and then a full-fledged episode of the show. Check it out:

Trailer (kind of illicit because of the music… shhh! Hopefully they’ll have time to redo it at some point…):

Episode #1 (all original music!):

There is already a lively forum on the site, and plenty of random people from all over the world have left feedback. It’s pretty exciting to see my friends succeeding like this, although this is still only the initial level. They are planning on doing a new episode every 2-3 weeks, and I think this show’s popularity will only grow with more episodes and an ever-growing forum community.

She’s Dead… Wrapped in Plastic

Okay, this is some pretty exciting news from TVShowsOnDVD.com:

Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition

THE GROUNDBREAKING SERIES THAT ALTERED THE TELEVISION LANDSCAPE AT LONG LAST ARRIVES IN A COMPLETE DVD SET

TWIN PEAKS™ THE DEFINITIVE GOLD BOX EDITION

Loaded with All-New Exclusive Special Features and Beloved Vintage Materials, All 29 Newly Remastered Episodes, Plus Two Versions of the Original Pilot, This 10-Disc Collection Debuts October 30, 2007

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The highly-anticipated Definitive Gold Box Edition of the series that became one of television’s most acclaimed events finally arrives – with all 29 episodes plus both the original and European versions of the pilot – on October 30, 2007 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment. Considered both technically and artistically revolutionary when it debuted, TWIN PEAKS™ garnered 18 Emmy nominations over the course of its two-season run with its cast of memorable characters, stunning cinematography and intriguing plot. Co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost and a large number of the cast and crew have returned to participate in this extraordinary new collection.

(read the full article…)

The cover art is a bit funky, but I don’t really mind. This is the first time the entire series has ever been available at once (legitimately), and I could see myself buying it. The original first season DVD is out of print, and didn’t even include the pilot movie due to funky rights issues. The only version of that movie available in America is an edited version that wraps up the whole story in a standalone format. I’ve managed to see the proper pilot movie only because I Luv Video rents import/bootleg/burned DVDs.

Pushing Daisies

Check out the trailer for Pushing Daisies, one of ABC’s new fall shows:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

I can finally see why critics have been so excited about this show. The original teaser made it look pretty straightforward, but this trailer makes it look like it was directed by Tim Burton on Prozac, or, more appropriately, Barry Sonnenfeld at his zaniest. The cinematic look they’re selling is pretty breathtaking, and I hope they can keep it going.

I’m really pumped about this show now, although it looks quirky enough that it probably doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of sticking around long, although Matt Roush says it doesn’t have much competition on the night. That’s a good sign, for sure.

“I’m Doug and I’m out of… here.”

How awesome is it that The State is finally coming to DVD, 14(!) years later?

This Frelling Rules!

Farscape

This is pretty much a complete bolt out of the blue, but from what I’ve just read on scifi.com, Farscape is being revived for a series of “webisodes”. Here’s the article:

SCI FI Channel will revive its popular original show Farscape as a Web-based series of short films on SCIFI.COM’s SCI FI Pulse broadband network, part of a slate of new original online programming.

SCI FI has ordered 10 webisodes of Farscape, to be produced by Brian Henson and Robert Halmi Jr. and produced by The Jim Henson Co.

The series will expand the Farscape universe, but the network had no announcements on casting or premiere dates.

Sure, these may be 2-3 minute long shorts that very well may barely involve any of the main characters, but I am so 100% there for this. Anything new in that universe is like manna from heaven to me, especially if it means that a new miniseries could result. Hell, I’d watch webisodes until the cows come home.

TV Upfront Week: Like Christmas for TV Addicts

Michelle Ryan, Bionic WomanAll of the networks ran through their “TV Upfront” presentations this past week. This is the time of year where they all announce next season’s new shows and let us know which of their current shows are on the chopping block.

As far as cancellations go for shows I’ve been watching (or, well, recording and not watching), there weren’t any huge surprises… Studio 60 is officially dead, Veronica Mars is as good as dead (although various pundits and execs keep dangling the vague possibility of hope for that one, I sincerely doubt it), and Jericho is toast.

I suppose I was mildly surprised about Jericho, but it didn’t really affect me because I never ended up watching the second half of the season. The first two eps after it returned were pretty damn awful, and I never worked up the desire to give it another chance.

As for the pick-ups, I was most worried about How I Met Your Mother (I accepted long ago that things were dire for Veronica Mars), but CBS thankfully picked that one up for another season. It’s easily the best traditional (three-camera, laugh track) sitcom on air, and I’d argue that it’s just as good as my favorite single-camera sitcoms on NBC.

Speaking of which, NBC has picked up their entire Thursday night sitcom line up for another year, which makes me plenty happy, as you might imagine. ABC also made an awesome decision and worked out a three-year plan for Lost so that the writers can actually start working towards the ending of their story.

The real treat for me, however, is always the new shows. I love nothing better than priming my DVR to record a bunch of brand-new shows that may or may not stick around. The following are the shows I’m looking forward to:

Of the five networks, NBC and ABC clearly have more shows that I’m interested in, but of the two networks, NBC’s shows look the most interesting. Out of everything coming out next year, I’m most excited about Bionic Woman and Chuck. Bionic Woman is obviously a remake of the 1970s show about a woman who is injured in a terrible accident and has parts of her body replaced with bionic limbs.

I think it’s kind of interesting that NBC has a “re-imagining” of a spin-off show, but the creative team behind the remake are the same folks who modernized Battlestar Galactica, which is one of my most favorite shows on TV right now. They’ve got quite the quality pedigree, and the cheesiness of the source material does not seem to affect how well the modern version turns out. Also, as you can see from the picture above, they’ve picked a gorgeous (British!) actress named Michelle Ryan to play the new Jaime Sommers.

ABC has a lot of shows that seem like they’ll have potential, but could go either way. From what Mike Ausellio says, Pushing Daisies is the next big ABC hit, so I’m looking forward to that the most. All of the other ABC shows look like they could go either way… except for Cavemen. Cavemen looks like a crime against television (if such a thing is possible), and I want to be there to see how things go down.

It’ll be fascinating to see which of these shows make it through the year… It’s a safe bet, however, that FOX will cancel something that will have its fans up in arms. This year it was Drive, which I never even bothered to watch because it was canceled after two weeks.

Everybody Loves Hypnotoad

There are some pretty excellent interviews with the makers of Futurama popping up various places. I definitely cannot wait for 2008 to roll around so I can see how Futurama has grown and changed since it went off the air on Fox in 2003(!). Here are some choice bits from an interview with Matt Groening:

Our goal in the beginning was… We know that it looks like a silly cartoon show, with a cyclops girl and a lobster alien and all that stuff. But that we were actually going to have, underlying the goofy comedy, was going to be legitimate literary science fiction concepts.

…and:

Even though he’s still very involved with The Simpsons his “day job” is creating the sixteen new episodes of Futurama that will be airing on Comedy Central starting in 2008.

There’s also a pretty excellent interview with David X. Cohen from Wizard magazine. Cohen gets a little bit more into the details:

When our story resumes, two long years have passed. As for the Fry/Leela relationship, we will be visiting that subject right away, so I refuse to tell you where it will lead on the grounds that I want you to buy the DVD.

And, most tantalizing, the interview ends with the following snippet:

…we are looking into producing a full 22-minute episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad for the DVD release. I am serious.

How exciting is that? Honestly, though, I’m mostly just amazed that Futurama can come back to air five years after it was originally cancelled. Kind of makes me wish someone had made Firefly as a cartoon

In any case, watch more Futurama and live in anticipation of 2008! I sure know I will!

Sincerely,
Your Master
The Hypnotoad

Why Aren’t You Watching The OC, Bitch?

Okay… I’ll be upfront about it. I love The OC. Despite the fact that _everyone_ I know who used to watch it now turns their nose up at it like two-day-old fish, I’ve stuck by it, and those folks are seriously missing out on some damn fine television. A rollicking good time, even, if I do say so myself.

The fourth season episodes so far have been great, some of the best in the show in a good long time, possibly reaching the quality of the first season (blasphemy!)

Tonight’s episode was a riot, and there is one good reason why: Autumn Reeser as Taylor Townsend!

!{float: left; margin-right: 1em;}/images/autumn.jpg! Not only is she pretty nice to look at, she is absolutely hilarious to watch. Her character is really well-written, but it helps that she’s such a talented performer.

Taylor was already my favorite character last season when the character was just a guest role, so I was definitely crossing my fingers in the hopes that she’d be added to the cast full-time… lucky me!

…Except The OC might not last after this season because none of you jerks are watching it. Jerks.

Seriously, though… the third season was kind of a drag sometimes, but it was still good, and the fourth season so far is leaps and bounds better than seasons two and three combined. It’s rare for a show to have such a resurgence in quality after two kind of shaky seasons, but here we are.

So… this is my call to all of you fair-weather fans… start watching The OC again. Watch one episode and you’ll forget what the hell Mischa Barton even looked like because a far better actress has taken her place front-and-center. So there.

NBC Finally Figured Out My Definition of Must See TV

So, as you, my faithful reader(s) know, I watch a lot of TV. A _lot_. I’m at a point where I couldn’t get by without my trusty DVR… in fact, I think it’s safe to say my social life would disappear without the thing.

That might sound strange, but think about it… what would i be doing on Friday nights when Battlestar Galactica is on? Sitting home and watching it. Wednesday night? Sorry, no, can’t go to a bar… _I have to watch Lost tonight_. What’s that you say? Use a VCR? What are you… a caveman?!?!? (Seriously, though… my VCR apparently chooses to ignore all programmed recordings, so *there*.)

But… I digress. On to the subject of my post. NBC has finally put together what I’d consider a truly great night of TV… and it’s on Thursday night, also known as The Place Where Must See TV Once Lived. And it is as follows:

!/images/my_name_is_earl.jpg!

“My Name Is Earl” (8-8:30 p.m. ET)

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“The Office” (8:30-9 p.m. ET)

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“Scrubs” (9-9:30 p.m. ET)

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“30 Rock” (9:30-10 p.m. ET)

This all goes into effect on November 30th, so… set your DVRs! As for the shows themselves…

My Name is Earl was one of my new favorites last year, and this season so far has been pretty awesome. They’ve actually been changing up the formula some and not focusing on the list so much… they’ve also dialed down a bit of the Earl’s preachiness about karma, and the last few episodes have proven that he’s still a flawed guy.

I’ve just recently gotten into The Office, but it’s absolutely worth the effort, especially for those of you who may have been big fans of the BBC version and were turned off by the adaptation. The show has come into its own and done so gracefully.

Scrubs is actually finishing up this year, unfortunately. Apparently Zach Braff has some kind of movie career to pursue or something… Anyways, it has an amazing ability to cheer me up, without fail, every time I watch it. Even though I’ve seen most of the episodes two or three times by now, I can still watch them at the drop of the hat… those DVDs are next up to buy, let me tell you.

30 Rock is, of course, brand new, and might not make it (although, really, everything on NBC is doing terribly right now, so 30 Rock is doing about the same). It started off… just okay, but this week’s episode was absolutely hilarious, and I’m completely on board now. Even though I haven’t watched the last two episodes of Studio 60, if I had to choose for one of the two shows to live, I think I’d pick 30 Rock, simply because it seems to have a better sense of focus and direction, and for the most part it’s figured out that we don’t need to see bad sketch comedy when the characters are more interesting.

p(edit). EDIT: Okay, I finally watched the most recent two episodes of Studio 60, and my opinion about the show hasn’t necessarily changed. It’s good, but it still isn’t quite hitting its marks. I might renege on my choice of 30 Rock over Studio 60, if and only if Studio 60 gets a little sharper or has another truly great episodes – a handful of truly great episodes would be even better. I’m sure we’ll get to see all of the episodes play, so maybe the later eps will be a little sharper once they get into a writing groove. And for god’s sake, can we get some Matt and Danny interaction? Like, at all? Of course, it would be even _better_ if Studio 60 started hitting its marks _and_ 30 Rock continued to be sharp _and_ stick around, because then I’d have two more excellent shows to add to my stable of “need to watch”. Wouldn’t that be nice?

It’s kind of amazing that it took NBC this long to put together such a perfect line-up of shows, with not a dud in the group – all of them are single-camera and laugh-track free, both of which are developments in sitcom TV that I find waaaaay overdue.

I really need to read that “Crafty TV Writing”:http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/0805080287/ book now, don’t I?

Sightings

In a pure “holy shit!” moment, I was watching last week’s episode of Prison Break earlier tonight, and I noticed that one of the actresses looked very familiar, and then I realized that I knew her from high school – she was in the ensemble cast of “All In The Timing” with me:

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The show is filming in Dallas, and I already know one person working on it – my friend Mark does behind-the-scenes work for the show – so it’s perhaps unsurprising that someone else I know (well, knew) is involved in the show. Still a huge shock to see her on the screen, though… interacting with one of the main characters.

…Especially because about a week or so ago I saw another “All In The Timing” cast member in a bar – a guy named Curtis Luciani. It’s plain old high school reunion time, let me tell you.

OK, I Am Officially Addicted To:

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seriously. i feel like i shouldn’t be so into doctor shows, of all things (scrubs and this), but damn if this one doesn’t seriously catch my fancy. i just watched three episodes in a row… two of them got me a little choked up and all three were hilarious. that, to me, is damn fine television… so i bought it.

always happens to me. amazon.com at 2 am. oh well.

…oh and i guess i was supposed to write up the story of my roadtrip. whoops!

well, at least they’ll get to finish it right

Personally, I’ve really been enjoying Alias this season – I think it’s been exciting and they’ve got a good handle on the premise again (and, actually, except for a few kinda boring episodes, season four was pretty damn good, too).

I have, however, also said that I was hoping that they would wrap it up this season, simply because it seems like the right time, and now that Sydney Bristow is going to be a mother, it seems less likely that she’d be able to keep the up the spyin’ all the time.

Well, ask and ye shall receive: “ABC: Alias Mission to End in May”:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001570832

This, to me, is actually pretty good news. They’ve been given enough time to put together a rousing series finale that wraps up all the loose ends. Five seasons is a good number for a show like Alias – sitcoms can drag on for 10 or more seasons and still be mildly entertaining, but shows that rely on developing story arcs can really push it if they last too long.

Also, story arc shows also tend to like to end with cliffhangers, and there’s nothing worse than canceling a show after they’ve planned a cliff-hanger season ending (*cough* Farscape *cough*).

i can relate

Today’s Player vs. Player is me in a nutshell. I’ve been starting to feel like a TV critic because I’m keeping track of so damn many shows. Currently these are on my must-see list:

Nip/Tuck, Lost, Alias, The OC, Prison Break, Arrested Development, Kitchen Confidential, My Name is Earl, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Rescue Me

(luckily, BSG and SG-1 are on winter hiatus and Rescue Me recently had a season finale.)

Also recording:

The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, Bones, Invasion, Threshold, The Office, Supernatural, Reunion

tell me what you don’t like about yourself

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In preparation for Nip/Tuck Season Three (and, well, Two, since – other than the season premiere – I hadn’t watched that yet, either) I decided to rewatch Season One this week. Boy was I glad I did – it was just as good the second time around (not counting when I watched the first couple of episodes last Christmas when it was given to me), and I forsee rewatching it again in the future. It was great, and I loved it, but I definitely noticed little plot holes here and there, which is not uncommon, I’ve noticed, in the first seasons of many shows, no matter how good they may be. The first seasons of Buffy and Angel had the same problem, and if Farscape didn’t have plotholes that first season, it definitely had a few episodes that annoyed me.

But every time there was a little inconsistency in Nip/Tuck, it only took a short amount of time before I was won over again by the sheer incredible force of the writing. My favorite episode from the first season involves the doctors being re-certified. Specifically, they have to perform procedures on severed heads taken from cadavers. As is the twisted nature of the show, Sean’s severed head starts talking to him. That same episode also has one of the most moving scenes in the whole show so far, as Sean spends the last few moments with his mistress, who is dying of cancer. It’s a testament to the power of the show that she quotes The Wizard of Oz in that scene – “Goodbye, Scarecrow! I’ll miss you most of all!” – and makes a movie reference into something that speaks volumes of emotion.

It had been my understanding that Nip/Tuck Season Two started at the level of quality and intensity of Season One and only ratcheted it all up even further from there on out, and so far it has not at all disappointed in that respect. If season one is a five out of five, there have been moments when I’ve thought season two was a six out of five. I keep yelling at the screen after every new revelation and twist. Famke Janssen’s guest starring role is the best acting she’s ever down, hands down. She steals every scene she’s in.

I actually got so into it tonight that I plowed through a good chunk of episodes – I’ve only got four more left to go, so I might actually be ready in time for the premiere on tuesday night!

You know, it’s funny how strongly I feel about the shows I’ve been watching. Sure, I could get out more and get some exercise, but I’ve always been that way, and considering the calibre of what I watch, I feel as though every time I sit and watch two or three episodes, I’ve just had a master class in writing. And I’m not just talking about Nip/Tuck, or Farscape, or Six Feet Under. I’m talking about Buffy and, yes, perhaps even The OC. I’m appreciating good art, and watching these last few episodes tonight has made me feel invigorated – they have been just the reward and release that I needed after what was, honestly, a pretty damn crappy week.

In Buffy-specific news, I look forward to buying The Chosen Collection very soon, especially since Seasons 5-7 have all sold, and I came away with $80 total.

It also helps that I bought my GRE book off amazon.com tonight. Now all I have to do in that respect is study and pick a time to take the test. I need to pick well, though, since the damn thing costs $115, and the most refund you can get back is $60 if you cancel.

On the graduate school subject, there are a few fronts that need serious consideration:

1. The GRE, of course. Under the same heading, I suppose, could be my official transcript. I vaguely remember how I did during my junior and senior years of college, which is both good and bad. I think it all averages out to over a 3.0, but I can’t say for sure, especially since I know that I got some of my worst grades in those years (bad for me, at least).

2. Recommendation letters. I feel like I have two sure bets, but that pesky third spot is eluding me, especially because I don’t feel comfortable asking my former playwriting professor for a recommendation. We ended that independent study on such bad terms, and I haven’t spoken to him since, mostly out of shame.

3. My portfolio. What I do have needs to be rewritten, but writing new stuff is probably a good idea as well. First, I’ll have to pin down the focus I want to choose within writing. The program i’m interested in allows you to pick a primary and a secondary focus, but your writing sample has to be catered towards your primary focus. As of right now, the only primary focus I could pick is playwriting, simply because it’s the only area of the four possible (playwriting, screenwriting, fiction, poetry) that I even have worthwhile samples.

Finally, I appear to have forgotten how to type… I keep making ridiculous typos, leaving out words and replacing them with other words. Alternatively, it’s possible that the connection between my brain and my fingers is currently shakier than normal since it’s so late at night. With that, I think it’s time for bed.

sharks patrol these waters

So I’ve been playing with the new “Stylecatcher plugin”:http://www.sixapart.com/pronet/docs/powertools that comes with MT 3.2 – the original 1.0 version didn’t work, but they’ve since released a bugfix version and it works just fine, although all of the themes seem to need a few CSS tweaks so that the content centers. Not exactly stellar, in my opinion, although this current theme is pretty nice, now that I’ve got it working. I’d still like to work on making my own theme, but for now, laziness is kicking in and this one works fine.

In other news, my Season 6 set sold as well, so now all I need to do is find someone willing to pay for Season 5. I’m still holding out hope that I can convince someone to pay a decent amount of money for it (say, more than $30), but if it takes too long to sell, I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and do whatever I can to get it off my hands. The longer it takes to sell, the more likely it is that I’ll get less and less money for it…

Also: what did you OC-watchers think of the Season Three premiere? I liked it, but was mildly disappointed at the same time – I really hope that all of the characters don’t spend too much of the season walking around looking sad. And… was it just me, or did it feel like not much actually happened in the episode? Maybe it’s just because I’m used to watching four episodes in a sitting, but it seemed like it was over before I knew it.

No Going Back Now!

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In preparation for the coming of “The Chosen Collection”:http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/newsitem.cfm?NewsID=4018 (sorry, couldn’t resist), I’ve decided to go ahead and sell my currently owned box sets of Buffy seasons 5 thru 7. I listed them all around 8 o’clock tonight… and Season 7 is already sold. (It makes me feel better that I made back almost what it cost me, although somehow I still feel guilty for selling the sets… it feels like _treason_!)

The best offer Half Price Books could have given me was *$9* per season, which is just absolutely offensive. At least on Amazon, I can set my own price and keep most of the money.

The way I’ve got it figured, if I can get back at least $20 a pop for 5, 6, and 7 each, they’ve paid for their part of the complete box set. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a little more than $20 a pop and they’ll pay for a bit of the rest of the set – the ideal situation is me coming away between $25 and $30 for each set.

2005 has definitely been the year of my TV obsession. First I got inexorably caught up in watching the entire runs of two great sci-fi TV shows, pretty much back-to-back (Farscape, then Buffy), and then the whole thing snowballed, and I found myself juggling any number of shows at the same time. At the moment it feels like I’m following as many shows on DVD as there are currently on-air, but it’s more likely that the on-air shows are starting to tip the balance – especially when I watch enough DVD to catch up to the currently airing episodes, like I’ve done with The O.C.

Most of my dvd purchases as of late have been TV box sets, as well… the three Buffy sets, then The Office, Firefly, The OC, Nip/Tuck Season Two, Lost… (I got an awesome deal on Lost, which is on sale at Target.) Man… I can already see what my new year’s resolution for 2006 should be – watch/buy less TV!

the dvd gods are mocking me

so… for slightly more than i’ve already spent on the show, (or, alternatively, about $20 more than it would cost me to buy the first four seasons _used_) you can now “pre-order”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000AQ68RI/ “The Complete Buffy The Vampire Slayer (The Chosen Collection)”:http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/newsitem.cfm?NewsID=4025.

why me, huh? why?

make sure that you are sure of everything i do

!/images/burma.jpg!

last night i went to the first concert i’ve been to in a long while. i can’t remember for sure when i last went out to a show – it was probably badly drawn boy, though, and that was last october. i went and saw “mission of burma”:http://www.missionofburma.com, and i have to say that i’m damn glad that i happened to be listening to “KEXP”:http://kexp.org when, randomly enough, the DJ mentioned that they would be playing here in Austin. (This is random because KEXP is based out of Seattle.)

the show was quite a barn-burner… ear-blistering, paint peeling, wall-to-wall rock and roll… it was incredible how ferocious they were, and they played two full sets. this is a practice that more band should take up… the best shows i’ve been to have been two-setters. it was particularly cool that they were so rocking because, honestly, the guitarist looks like he should be planning a fishing trip somewhere, and they’re all in their mid-to-late forties, if not early fifties.

i also broke down and used the ATM outside the club to get some cash so that i could buy a poster. the damn ATM charged a $3.75 fee. highway robbery! …the poster, however, was worth it… not only was it made specially for the show, it’s signed and numbered – and it was only $10. it seemed like a better idea to spring for a poster than a shirt, because the shirts were the same ones i could get from their website, but the posters looked very one-time-only.

after the show, as i was walking down sixth street on the way back to my car, i was amazed yet again at how crazy downtown austin gets. i don’t usually hang out on sixth street when i go out, and it was easy to remember why.

especially surprising were the two girls i saw walking around topless. when i saw the first i thought she was just some drunk girl without inhibitions, but when i saw the second one, i knew it was some kind of trend. a bar must have been having a contest or something, who knows.

still, though, i only imagine such things happening in new orleans, or california, or wherever those crazy party towns are. whenever i go to the ginger man or places like mugshots and texas showdown, things always seem so sedate. ‘course, none of those bars are on sixth street, so that may be part of the reason why.

when i woke up this morning my ears were definitely still ringing, and i felt generally awful. i puttered around for a few hours, watched the “battlestar galactica”:http://scifi.com/battlestar/ season premiere (it was awesome), as well as the Stargate SG-1 premiere, which, honestly, i was only watching because Ben Browder is the new lead and i really miss Farscape, but which was also pretty entertaining, even though i definitely felt a good bit lost. (Claudia Black is a guest star, as well. It’s a pretty blatant grab at the attentions of Farscape fans… and it clearly worked on me. sigh.)

after a several-hour nap and some further puttering, i decided to finally sit down and start reading the new harry potter book, which i’m sure everyone else has finished by now. i’m a little over halfway in at this point, and only took a break to get some food and write a bit.

…and, well, actually, i might be tired now, so it looks like i may go to bed here in a bit.

i’ve never been happier about getting “arrested”

cheesy joke, i know, but i couldn’t resist:

*FOX DOES MORE TIME WITH “ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT,” ORDERING A FULL THIRD SEASON*

FOX gets ARRESTED again. The network has ordered a third full season of the Emmy Award-winning comedy series ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, it was announced today by Peter Liguori, President, Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company.

“ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is one of the best comedies on television. The decision to order another season becomes easy when you consider its amazing cast, creative brilliance, critical acclaim and advertiser appeal,” said Liguori. “It’s my first official pick-up since taking the job, and I think it’s a great way to start.”

The critically acclaimed series revolves around Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the good son who must run the family business and continue to pick up the pieces as he keeps his offbeat family from falling apart. The comedy has featured guest appearances by numerous stars including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Liza Minnelli, Heather Graham and Ben Stiller. Last year, the show received five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, Writing, Directing, Casting and Editing. Additionally, Jason Bateman won a Golden Globe for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy Series and the show was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Outstanding Musical or Comedy Series. This past season, the cast was nominated for a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. The show was also named an AFI Program of the Year and received the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Comedy, among other accolades.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is produced by Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Mitch Hurwitz are executive producers.

From The Futon Critic.

luke = jesus, get it?

…right, anyways…

after i finished farscape, i was seriously considering cancelling netflix, simply because i couldn’t really justify using it as much anymore, and also because i want to cut back some on the time i spend in front of a tv. but i waited too late to cancel it this month, and perhaps some things are inevitable anyways, because i do want to watch more…

tonight, i watched all three and a half hours of “Oliver Stone’s 1995 film about Richard Nixon”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0113987/. it was really amazingly excellent, and if not for the pee break i had to take halfway through, i would have been mesmerized the whole time through. it was kind of amazing how Stone made the whole thing into something Shakespearian, and at the same time also made Nixon a strangely sympathetic character.

i also went home this weekend for my mom’s graduation from graduate school, and we all watched Sideways, which was as good the second time. the scene where Miles and Maya sit outside and talk about why the like wine is still, hands down, one of the best scenes in cinema from the last couple of years.

i still have this idea knocking around in my head that i should go through my movies, one by one, and write a review of each one based on a repeat viewing. i.e., the idea being to write about how the movie stands up on further reflection, and compare how i felt about it the first time to how i felt about it now. some of these would be more interesting than others, of course.

about a week or so ago, i found this nifty website called “backpack”:http://www.backpackit.com/, which is intended to help with organizing your thoughts and projects.

it would be useful… if i sat down and took the time to put things into it.

_…sigh…_

closed chapters

this weekend i finished a book, finished farscape, and watched my friend eddy ride off into the proverbial sunset with his new bride.

(well, they didn’t ride… they mostly just walked up the hotel stairs to their marriage bed.)

the first was mildy disappointing (i guess even jonathan carroll can write a lame book), and the other two were bittersweet.

more than anything else, i wonder how long it will be before i see eddy again, and how much he may have changed.

i also wonder how long it will take for me to get all of my ducks in a line… will i ever make good on my dreams?

two things.

1. fuck you, netflix – i just watched the huuuuuugest cliffhanger in the middle of farscape season four, and i was about to pop in the next disc to resolve my extremely agitated imagination, when what do i behold but the biggest goddamn crack straight through the entire DVD! aaaaaaaaargh!

must. have. more. farscape! gnaaaargrgghhgrhghg!

2. oh sweet mother of god, this looks gorgeous: “Serenity – Full Trailer”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/serenity/ – if you know what’s good for you, you read that and got pretty damn excited…

a bunch of entries that weren’t in my backup

you know… thank god I upgraded to MT 3.15 recently and made a backup of my entries before i did so, because otherwise, i’d have to re-enter five months of entries manually. as it was, i still had to plug all of april’s entries back in, as well as a few from march. fucking ridiculous. i suppose at some point i’ll redo these so they’re back to individual entries, but it’s late right now.

——————————-

April 09, 2005

woody allen interview… where?

neil gaiman has helpfully pointed out the pretty nice little woody allen interview on suicide girls. of all the things… woody allen on a site full of underclothed goth girls.

April 07, 2005

one more time

well, i had an entry, but firefox slowed to a crawl because of too many tabs full of sites with useless flash animation, so i had to force-quit.

this was the important bit – listen to the french kicks – sorry, fixed the link.

Found another song on Epitonic: so many cakes

EDIT: Just so you guys know, because of the upgrade to MT 3.15, your comments will not immediately appear on the site. I get an email notifying me of the comment, and I approve or deny it accordingly. This helps prevents comment spam. Looks like it was a misconfiguration; I was getting the comments, but I’ve made it so that I don’t have to moderate every damn one now, and they will appear immediately.

Oh, and… personally, I like “Trial of the Century” better than “One Time Bells”. “Bells” just sounds a bit too much like Spoon, although it is still a good album; “Trial” shows the band actually moving forward and forging their own sound. And besides, i like the new wave-y style better, m’self.

April 05, 2005

hmm….

now that all of the archived entries have names instead of numbers, this entry about napoleon dynamite leapt swiftly to the top of my webstats. and i don’t even have anything particularly interesting to say in the entry! such is life.

eye in the sky

Google knows where my house is!

screenshot of google maps

(click on “satellite view” in the upper right-hand corner and zoom in to get the full effect.)

i’d have to get a lot of spam to fill that up

well, apparently google has decided to gift everybody with more space for their gmail accounts. even though i’m only using 41 megs of space, i now have a full 2 gigs to fill.

maybe i should start storing full-length movies on there or something.

April 04, 2005

the proverbial eureka moment

so i was taking a shower tonight, letting images and thoughts percolate through my head, as they are wont to do in moments of quiet contemplation, and suddenly, very much out of nowhere, an image that had been floating in my head for some time now turned itself into an idea. i was so happy i laughed out loud, loud enough for vincent to hear me through the wall and think i had gone a little bit crazy.

anyways, i had this image in my head of a man wearing dark glasses and a trench coat, and suddenly that turned into the following, i.e. the comedic play idea that i have been searching for:

“four blind men meet in a park to plan their takeover of the world. however, every man has a secret, and there is a spy in their midst.”

April 03, 2005

am i an old man yet?

going back to campus for alumni weekend last night and the night before was definitely interesting. i guess i’m more used to being an alumni than i was before. i can still remember the first party that i came back for. it was like going back to my parents’ house after it had crossed over from being my home into something else altogether.

i also realized that part of the reason i haven’t been too bothered about girls is because i haven’t talked to or seen any in a long time. there’s only a handful of girls at work close to my age, and they’re not that interesting. other than work i don’t get out much, so i suppose it’s not surprising that it’s easy to be alright about not having any female contact.

but then last night i was actually able to talk to several girls, all but one of whom were freshman – they’re supposed to be too young for me, right? …and it reminded some part of me that it’s been a while now. this voice will increase in volume until i go fucking bonkers.

i, of course, tried to go into each situation knowing that i was just talking to somebody cool, not actually hitting on a girl. the only one that really seemed a shame was a girl who i am pretty sure is paul’s girlfriend. she was a nice anomaly… a talented but humble theatre major. they don’t make those often at southwestern.

some silly little part of me was like “you should hang out more at the sig house so you can meet girls…” but, no, no, i shouldn’t. i have no business lusting after girls younger than my younger brother. it’s one thing if they’ve gone through college; being four or five years older than someone at that point isn’t a big deal. for a while i always said that once you reach college, the separation of a few years isn’t as big a deal, but after having seen what freshman girls tend to behave like at southwestern, it is a big deal unless the girl you’re talking about is one in a million.

————-

well, it’s been ages since i wrote an “emo” post or one about girls, and now i’ve done both in the same week. i am an eternal broken record.

March 31, 2005

alright, this is just too terrible not to mention

from yahoo news:

If you expressed your support to Terri Schiavo and her parents’ fight to keep her alive, you may begin to receive a steady stream of solicitations, according to a Local 6 News report.

Terri Schiavo’s parents have agreed to sell their list of supporters to a direct-mailing firm, Local 6 News reported.

The company, “Response Unlimited” pays about $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 6,000 e-mail addresses.

A spokesperson for the Schindlers confirmed that they had agreed to sell the information, but won’t say for how much.

do you ever get the feeling that there’s something hanging just out of view, whispering in your ear?

firstly, it’d be hard to explain why i got so choked up when i finished the last few episodes of farscape season three. it just sounds kind of silly. sure, it’s acceptable fact that if you watch, say “six feet under” or, well… “schindler’s list,” you’re going to get a little teary-eyed. it comes with the territory. but a show full of weird people in funny leather costumes spouting futuristic gibberish?

i can’t explain it (to my satisfaction), but let me say that it was an important feeling. important, you say? how so? well… maybe this realization that i’ve had was already there, just on the outside of my peripheral vision, but it didn’t become completely clear until i watched a special feature on the last disk giving a recap of the whole season.

what became clear is something that i talked about in my earlier entry: the quality of the writing. remember how i talked about the use of cliches and the way they broke them in astounding fashions? well, as i sat and watched the feature about the season, i heard them describing the exact bits that i had pulled out; the very plot devices that packed an emotional punch.

and then the season finale… where the end of season two was action-packed and absurd, this one was… all too human, and painful, and emotionally wrenching, and somewhere along the line those writers, those crazy writers, had made me care deeply about the fate of a bunch of puppets, cgi creatures, and people prancing around in leather. a lot. a heart-breaking amount. i’m still finding it hard to keep from tearing up, and it’s been a long time since i’ve felt that way.

but this is when i heard the little voice in my ear. the thing that has been patient, oh so patient, while i have been wittering my life away doing nothing, not living, not serving my purpose.

i was watching the special, and the producer/writer was talking about the last episode, an episode that he felt was so important that he did not want it to fail, but he just didn’t know how to get it right.

it was nagging at him, constantly, until one night, he woke up in bed, suddenly enough that he frightened his wife and dogs, and he knew how to write it. he knew what was important, and it was so important the he got up right then and started writing.

at four in the morning.

until i feel that feeling again… (and i have felt it. i have been in that moment where nothing else mattered but telling the story, just getting it out…)

until then, i’m not really living.

so, you might ask… why not write, right now.

write something!

i’m paralyzed.

i’m scared.

i have no ideas that i want to write.

i come home from work every night and i’m so tired, and i just want to disappear somwhere else for a few hours and get a good night’s sleep. i want to be gone.

and i have so many friends, so many good friends out there, who nag me, and tell me that i should write something new, and then i have so many friends who wish i would write something new, but who have given up on me long ago.

it’d be great if i could finish something, after all.

(but i have finished things! i’ve finished plays, good ones…)

but that was so long ago. i can’t feel it anymore. i can’t remember what that tastes like. those plays aren’t even mine anymore. now that they’ve escaped onto the page, they’re strangers ready for someone else’s touch.

the whisperer, i can hear her…

she says that i know what i have to do.

now i just have to remember how to do it.

…they say it’s like a bike.

another reason i want to be a writer full-time

it seems to fit my lifestyle:

…anyway, I was on a roll last night. So I just kept working. And somewhere around seven this morning I realised I’d actually finished it, so I sent it to Dave McKean and went to bed. Up around eleven this morning, with a message from Dave waiting letting me know that I’d given one section short shrift, and I looked it over, and he was right, I had, and it needed to be longer, so I simply made a cup of tea and turned it into a full chapter, and did a final tidy.

It went off to Dave, to HarperChildrens, and to Bloomsbury, about half an hour ago. And now I’m going to do all those things I’ve normally already done by five in the afternoon, like shower and make breakfast.

(from Neil Gaiman’s Journal)

farscape, i wub you

i just watched six episodes of farscape on a work night, and the only thing keeping me from watching the remaining three right now is the fact that i need to go to sleep so i can make it to work at all.

i’m sure it’s a bit silly at this point for me to continue raving about this particular show, but it keeps getting better and better… and the writing is pretty incredible this season. they’ve taken some cliches of science fiction and tv in general and managed to turn them on their heads and make them new again.

it is, for example, one of the first times in a long time that an unrequited love story has not only worked for me but been both satisfying and heartbreaking instead of annoying. unrequited love is one of the most over-used tropes in television; i’d personally argue that one of the reasons that seinfeld was so great was because it’s the only sitcom you can point to that was on network tv without ever having some of the main characters fall in love but have a hard time making it work. i challenge anyone to name one other sitcom that has done that.

alias was another good example of unrequited love working well, until the unfortunate latter end of the third season, at which point i just got tired of hearing about it. the fourth season has managed to salvage this to a pretty good degree by making that particular plotline no longer relevant, which is probably the only choice they had. it is, unfortunate, however, that it stumbled at all.

another thing that Farscape has pulled off very well involves a major plot point this season; without going into detail, let’s just say that one of the clichés of earlier episodes of Farscape and sci-fi shows in general is that they will have something terrible and ridiculous happen to the characters that gets resolved by the end of the episode, or in the one after that.

about a third of the way into this season, there was one such episode, where some weird shit happened to a main character, and we assumed that the situation – extreme as it was – would get resolved soon without harm to anyone involved. except they took what could have been a one-shot and made it into a major story arc, and a heartbreaking one, too…

thing is, i just know… i can feel it… if the finale at the end of season two was fucked up, this one is only going to be worse, and i am most certainly going to have a much harder time getting my hands on season four…

anyways, a parting thought: who needs a life, when you’ve got sci-fi on dvd?

March 29, 2005

Updated and Upgraded

Today I decided on a whim that I wanted to upgrade my version of Movable Type to the newest, brand-spankin’-est one available, so I downloaded the goods and did all the standard upgrading.

However, I also decided that I no longer wanted to use the numeric archive links, which are lame and, shall we say, unfriendly to google. This, of course, was another case where i needed to use htaccess and mod_rewrite, but I was not sure exactly how to decipher the highly technical documentation, so I dug around until I found a site that explained in clearer terms.

It was easy to set up the monthly archives to redirect; what was difficult was making it so that anyone trying to access an old numbered entry would get the correct named entry.

I ended up having to do some fun things with htaccess and a cgi script that I found on scriptygoddess’ site. Once I fixed the dumb mistakes I was making, it started working like a charm…

So instead of Google thinking my whole journal has disappeared, it will instead discover everything has merely been updated. Huzzah!

what i’m watching

in order of how much i _need_ to see the next episode:

(1) farscape
(2) carnivale
(3) six feet under
(4) lost
(5) alias
(6) nip/tuck – i missed all of season two, dammit!
(7) battlestar galactica – the miniseries was sooo good…
(8) arrested development – i hope fox doesn’t cancel this…
(9) buffy the vampire slayer – not _hooked_ yet…
(10) the shield
(11) monk
(12) curb your enthusiasm
(13) dead like me – not _great_, but i think i’ll watch some more episodes

no wonder i have so little time…

ohferjesusfuckingbuddhawillikers

oh god. i just finished watching season two of farscape. good lord. it just kept getting more and more _hardcore_, episode after episode, and when it got to the finale i kept thinking to myself “oh god there’s only _fifteen minutes left_ and i don’t want to be left where they’re threatening to leave me…” but they did. they -fucking- frelling _did_.

(one note: if you’ve rented the last season two collection, the finale is actually on disc one. you have to watch the first episode on the disc, stop it, put in disc two, and then go back to disc one for the finale. fucking adv films can suck it. thank god i checked to make sure i was watching them in order – there was a huuuuuge jump between the episodes on disc one. didn’t smell right.)

mark, do you remember the end of alias season two? yeah. i don’t know if any of you guys have finished this season of farscape, but it’s comparable… except that farscape sometimes manages to be even more twisted (although, perhaps the impact of alias season two’s finale has dulled with time…). the season finale was fucking scary, man. or at least it was so… incredibly awful to watch. painful for the characters. man.

luckily, it occurred to me tonight that perhaps the austin library might have farscape on dvd. and… lo and behold, i’m next in line for *the complete season three box set*. that’s right, i’m not going to have to rent the discs one by piddling one, i get the whole damn thing at once, for free. i just have to manage to watch it in seven days… i might have to wait a week or two before i get it, though…

i _think_ i can wait that long…

farscape –> wazoo

well, thank god for hollywood video and the fact that season two of farscape comes in two disc sets. it’s been much less frustrating to work my way through this season because of it. sure, i’ve spent a hunk of change on rentals when – if i was patient – i could always get them from netflix, but if i had chosen that path, i wouldn’t have been able to watch nine (count ’em) nine episodes today.

and boy, were they some good episodes! the first season was good, good enough to hook me on the show, but there were definitely some crappy episodes here and there, points at which i got annoyed and was really only watching them so i wouldn’t miss anything. season two, on the other hand, is not only more consistent, but certain episodes rise above the rest. my favorite episode so far is one called “won’t get fooled again”, where crichton seems to have traveled back to earth… except everyone from moya is there, and they don’t seem to know what he’s talking about. nothing cracked me up quite as much as pilot playing the bongos…

i keep going to the “episode guide on tvtome”:http://www.tvtome.com/Farscape/ and accidentally reading little spoilers. you’d think i’d have learned by now, but i’m the bug and it’s a flame. i just have to learn more about the episodes i’ve watched so far. (p.s. if you go to that page, be careful when you click on the episode guide. it goes straight to a summary of the peacekeeper wars miniseries. i couldn’t help myself, and i read just a bit of it, more than i should have…)

i suppose i should have gone outside and taken a walk at some point today – it was really nice outside – but once i got into the farscape, there was no stopping me. really, it was all i wanted to do today. and somehow i feel accomplished. nine episodes. damn. it doesn’t feel like i spent close to seven hours of the day watching farscape…

ghost in the shell 2: innocence

Ghost in The Shell 2: Innoncence

i remember watching the first ghost in the shell movie and being confused and mildly disappointed. up until that point, my only exposure to anime was akira, which – although it was confusing as well – seemed far more epic in scope. i remember wondering if there were that many full-length anime features that were _as good_ as i thought akira was, and for a few years, i didn’t think so.

i was, of course, wrong. there were a hell of a lot of really excellent full-length anime features out there, i just hadn’t found them yet.

now, in my personal continuum of anime features, nothing will probably ever top spirited away. that would just be heresy; i’d say that and akira are on equal footing in my realm.

ghost in the shell 2 was quite a lot different from the first movie. the difference was all the more striking because i watched the trailers included on the disc, and saw a clip of the first movie – which now looks primitive and cartoony – and a bit of Stand Alone Complex, the TV series – cartoony still, but much more modern.

this one was pretty goddamn confusing as well, but there was something about it that clicked a whole lot better for me. innocence is not only far more epic than the first film, it is far more philosophical in scope, and the surrealistic quality that i love so much in a good anime has been ramped up much higher. there were parts of this movie that kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies, and i now consider it a sign of quality when something i watch can scare me a little bit in the right way (firefly being another example – the third episode made me crawl a little bit).

the only thing that wasn’t cool about the movie – and this is quite the internet scandal – was that instead of including regular subtitles, a closed captioned track was the only english option offered. so you’d get things like “[singing in japanese]” or “[dog whimpers]”, all of which were plastered right up front in huge white letters.

i decided a few years ago that kung fu flicks and anime were the only sorts of foreign films where i didn’t mind english dubbing. in both cases, it’s so you can pay as much attention to the visuals as possible. i’d actually prefer it if ghost in the shell had an english dub, cause i know there was a good amount of stuff that i missed just because i was trying to frantically read the subtitles and watch all of the crazy shit going on at the same time.

in other news: “wonderfalls: the complete series”:http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/releaseinfo.cfm?ReleaseID=4145 is getting released on dvd. only 4 episodes of this show were ever actually aired, so the set has *9 unaired episodes*. now, i have the whole damn series on my computer thanks to bittorrent, but i’m probably going to buy this boxset because i only watch stuff on my computer as a last resort.

i think it’s pretty amazing, though, that the number of shows being given a second chance on dvd keeps growing. this is definitely a trend i like. i guess producing a dvd box set is cheap enough that it’s worthwhile for studios to do this sort of thing, especially when fans are starting to learn that if they’re vocal enough, they can counteract the half-assed decisions of lily-livered TV executives.

my thought when i was watching firefly was that one of the most famous and long-lived science fiction franchises ever was cancelled after 3 seasons in its original form. we’ll ignore the last couple of movies they made, but hey… 30 years is pretty damn good for something tv execs tried to kill off, isn’t it?

now i just want a dvd box set of “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0105932/…

tv shows on dvd

ah, the movie studios have got my number. i am a sucker for those box sets of tv shows that are so prevalent now. i mean, i knew this before, but this weekend i’ve started to realize that what gets me excited more than anything else these days is watching the first couple of episodes of a tv show on dvd and then realizing that if i like it, i can watch more. a lot more. these things are addictive. why, this weekend alone i’ve already started a fixation on both farscape and firefly (rented the first disc of that tonight). firefly in particular is *gorgeous*, looks very expensive, and was probably always too good for television. farscape is awesome, but the dvds are annoying. two measly episodes a disc? poo on you, ADV films.

i’ve got a couple more right at the top of my netflix queue:

Dead Like Me: Season 1: Disc 2
Freaks & Geeks: Disc 1 (Yes, i could borrow this from Doug. But I’m impatient.)
The Dead Zone: Season 1: Disc 1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1: Disc 1
Six Feet Under: Season 2: Disc 1
Angels in America: Disc 2

Movies I Have Recently Seen

“Primer”:http://primermovie.com – fascinating, confusing, thrilling and strange, made all the more strange by the mundane setting and simple dialogue/acting.

Platoon – another excellent movie about Vietnam.

On the Waterfront – lives up to the hype. Brando really was that good.

TV Shows on DVD: Neverwhere – miniseries written by Neil Gaiman. Nip/Tuck – New favorite TV Show

Well, this makes me happy…

Taken from Dark Horizons:

ABC President Stephen McPherson revealed that next season’s episodes (starting Jan ’05) will once again return to Sydney juggling her dual roles as an international spy and normal twentysomething girl, conceding the complex plot heavy episodes may have turned off some of the more casual viewers of the show – “We got so deep in the Rimbaldi and Covenant [mysteries] that we lost sight of some of the stuff we fell in love with [in the beginning]. J.J. is talking about getting back to some of the joy that she used to have in her personal life early on… while still living in this crazy world”.

Abrams himself, whose been working on the pilot for his upcoming ABC thriller, “Lost”, said the step back from the show during the break has allowed him a whole new perspective – “Going away to do Lost allowed me to look at Alias in a way that I could not have done otherwise ? from the outside, and it was like an incredibly enlightening thing. I suddenly knew in my heart what I wanted and what I didn’t want ? and I saw what was happening. Not that I wasn’t proud of what was there, but I saw some mistakes that I made and I thought, ‘Oh my God'”.

The delay to January which will allow the shows to be aired weekly without interruption was something Abrams was keen on – “I was begging them to do it”. McPherson adds “We’re going to be launching a lot of new dramas in the fall and we wouldn’t have been able to put any money [into promoting Alias]. So we felt the best thing to do was bring it on in January when we’ve got all [20 episodes] and a huge promotion platform with the Academy Awards”.

In good news for fans, McPherson also confirmed that there’s “not a chance” Season 4 could be Alias’ last – “It will be an asset for years”.