Archive for May 2003

 
 

The Amazing Race 4

THE AMAZING RACE 4 premiered last night with a special hour and a half episode. It’s the best reality show on television. It’s the kind of reality show that doesn’t ever make you feel creepy for watching it, and presents the best and worst of humanity in a way that’s truly compelling and interesting to watch. You can watch this one with anybody and not make apologies.

12 teams of 2 in pre-existing relationships are racing around the world, completing oddball tasks at points all over the world. It’s half National Geographic and half game show. The teams include all the reality TV show cliches: gay married couple, father-and-son who don’t get along, comedic pair, best friends, virgins, and the pre-requisite out of shape older couple/parents.

Why aren’t there ever any married lesbians on these shows? It’s always married men. If you want to pull in the ratings, this isn’t the way to do it.

The comedians this time around are actual Ringling Bros. clowns.

The virgin team this year is a pair who have been dating for 12 years. I have no problem with the concept of waiting for marriage. Hell, I think it’s an honorable thing and good for them for doing it. I just have a problem with the girl for sticking around with a guy for 12 years without getting a ring. How do you date anyone for 12 years without getting married, assuming you’re not opposed to the institution and haven’t had a whole discussion of that already?!? He has a problem with commitment, despite the fact that he’s only ever dated one girl and done it for 12 months. Slap him silly, quick.

I’m not going to make any predictions for this show like I did for AMERICAN IDOL. It’s too wildly unpredictable. One mistake can sink a team in a heartbeat, and that’s something they trade off on every week in the promotional package. I don’t think, however, that the models/friends are going to last long. They have one natural talent: The ability to flirt their way anywhere very slowly. Very very slowly. Not gonna help in a race.

It’s fun to watch a pair of air traffic controllers trying to find their way to LAX and spotting a plane on approach to figure out how close they are to the airport. It’s fun to see the feuding couple, who even reference last year’s most hilarious whiner, Flo.

META: Various and Sundry slows down?

Yes, it’s true. After a week of frantic posting, this web site will probably slow down significantly this weekend. I’m heading off to a comic convention on Friday for the day, and then a series of other things during the weekend which will keep me otherwise preoccupied in the real world. I’m going to time delay a couple of posts for Friday, but don’t expect to see anything on Saturday or Sunday.

And while I’m here, thanks for reading. The hits on this site have gone up now every month since I started it. In fact, the monthly hit total is three times greater than it was in its first full month of operation, and has doubled since January. Pretty impressive stuff. Makes it easier and more fun to come back here every day to post something.

Fame

The last thing I needed to do was watch another reality TV talent show. Isn’t the upcoming Most Talented Senior competition the nadir of it all? Why watch FAME? Why, to make comparisons with AMERICAN IDOL, the show that’s responsible for FAME’s return…

Here now are some random thoughts on the show, which is generally painful to get through:

Debbie Allen thinks she’s Paula Abdul, but she looks more comfortable reading her words of encouragement off a teleprompter.

The show has a male judge named JoJo who broke out the “You made that song your own” cliche from AI. He had to. The singer was awful.

You just know that most of the contestants were AMERICAN IDOL rejects a few months ago during those auditions. Many of them admit to having no dancing ability, but just wanted to sing. They’d let Debbie teach them to dance. Great.

If I hear the phrase “triple threat” one more time, I’m going to slap Joey Fatone. BTW, can someone tell Fatone to please open his eyes?

Guest judge Carnie Wilson Phillips (whatever her name is) has huge nipples. There was no need to put them on display for all of America as she slouched down in her chair, though. Whoa.

But the real upset tonight was that McKenzie didn’t make it through. I couldn’t believe it. The white rapper boy made it through, though. Weird.

Only 6.5 months to go before AMERICAN IDOL returns.

Pricing oddness

Just checking Amazon.com for reference purposes here. The following prices are the full MSRP:

DAWSON’S CREEK, Season 1: 13 episodes, $40
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, Season 1: 13 episodes, $40
HOMICIDE, Seasons 1 and 2: 13 episodes, $70

Yup, you know it’s a good quality TV show when the price is nearly double that of anything else in a similar category.

For goodness’ sake, you can get the first season of FELICITY for $60, and that has 21 episodes plus the pilot.

I imagine that A&E/NBC aren’t expecting to sell many copies of HOMICIDE. That’s a shame. It’s the best cop show I’ve ever watched on network television.

Looking back…

I made some predictions for this year’s AMERICAN IDOL contest a few months ago. Let’s see how far off I was.

“…that’s my top three right now: Clay, Josh, and Kimberley Locke, though not in that order, necessarily.” Well, two out of three ain’t bad. And remember, the top three were all from Group 2. The 3 people in group 2 who got the most votes were Ruben, Clay, and Kim Locke. Clay didn’t make it there, but got pushed through on the Wild Card show, where he was the obvious favorite.

The first three I predicted to go were Charles, Carmen, and Julia. Again, I got two out of three right there. Charles was second and Julia was third (in a mercy killing). I’m glad Carmen made it further, but the Vanessa thing was just a wild fluke. Many still blame her disappearance on the “trained monkey” gag that people didn’t realized was scripted for her. ::sigh::

After that, I went for Vanessa, Corey, and Rickey. Vanessa was already gone. Corey went out fourth and Rickey fifth, though. 2 out of 3 again. I’m doing fairly well so far.

The next group of three I predicted would be Ruben, Trenyce, and Kimberley. This is where my picks almost started to fall apart. Again, I scored 2 of 3. Kimberly Caldwell went first, then Carmen, and then Trenyce. Ruben, as we all know, went all the way.

I had the final three of Clay, Kimberley Locke, and Josh. Josh faded out too fast, though. He started out strong, hit some shakey spots, and limped to fourth place.

I predicted Clay would win it all, with Locke in second place. Clay did finish one position ahead of Kimberley in the top 3. Close enough.

I’d call it a pretty good set of guesses. We’ll see how I do next year. =)

Another interesting Casablanca addition

They’re going to include the 1995 Bugs Bunny short, “Carrotblanca” in the DVD special edition of CASABLANCA. That’s pretty cool. The short, itself, is cute.

Still, we have a little while longer to wait before the restored Looney Tunes shorts are put out on disc…

Avril news sure to terrify

For those of you who love to hate Avril Lavigne, here’s some more grist for the mill:

They’re making a amovie out of Sk8ter Boi. They’re using the lyrics from the song to construct a movie. No word on if Avril would star in the movie, but she’ll provide a song for the soundtrack, I’d imagine. Although, isn’t that like playing a song with the lyrics “we’re going to win it in the end” during the climactic basketball scene in TEEN WOLF? Doesn’t it give the whole story away?

They are re-releasing “Let Go” with special VCD material, including the music videos and live performances.

Also, the next Lavigne album is set to be — get this — a live album, compiled from concerts from the past year of promotions. It’s due out September 9th.

Now, spew forth with your venom. You have your raw material here. ;-)

An interview with Gina Torres

You may know her from THE MATRIX or ALIAS or FIREFLY. You may know her now as Mrs. Laurence Fishburne. And you can hear her talk about all of that and more (CLEOPATRA 2525, ugh) over at SciFi Overdrive. That link will take you to the download of the hour-long interview, which runs up over 40 MB, I believe. There’s a lot to talk about and only a couple of cringe-inducing moments. She takes the entire interview in good humor, despite the occasional disconnect with the interviewer. She talks all-too briefly about FIREFLY, also, just past the halfway point.

Bill Murray as Garfield?

You may have heard that there’s a live-action GARFIELD movie coming. If you haven’t, I’ll give you a moment to shake your head, stare up at the heavens, and ask, “Why? God, Why?!?” It’s OK. It’s what the rest of us did when we first heard.

The thing is, Garfield will be CGI. Odie will be a real live dog. And Jon will have a lady friend played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, if I remember correctly.

But who would voice Garfield? The great Lorenzo Music passed a year or two ago. He did the voice for the big fat cat’s first 20 years of life, including the great Saturday morning animated series.

Ain’t It Cool News is now reporting that Bill Murray will voice the cat. The funny thing is, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. I’m not a cultist Murray fan like so many seem to be. He’s funny in a couple of things, but he doesn’t bowl me over with every line he speaks. Still, I think his voice might work here. We shall see…

24 – Season 2 finale (spoilers)

SPOILERS

I don’t want to say that the season finale was disappointing, but it did seem to undermine itself. The first season finale was so amazing because it definitively wrapped up its storyline with a bang. (More specifically, a long series of bangs from Jack Bauer’s gun.) And then a twist. Nobody saw it coming. It was shocking. It ended the series on a high note.

The second season came and things seemed a little more assured. The creators were confident that they’d have a full season to play with, and not just the first 13 episodes. Thus, no amnesia storylines just past the halfway point of the series. No scrambling for storylines. OK, OK, so there’s every plot point with Kim in it that was completely unnecessary in the second season. I like to think that she represented the “average person’s” reaction to the events of the day, but I can’t sell that to myself. The sad thing is that she’ll be back next season to continue to derail the 24 freight train. Speaking of which, let me get back on track here:

The season finale. They spent so much time trying to set up season three that they never truly ended this season. We thought we had the big bad guy in our sights for this episode. Except he wasn’t. He was being controlled by a guy on a yacht somewhere. But, wait, in the season finale we find out that that guy isn’t in control, either. He’s reporting to some other guy. So when the bad guy we thought was the bad guy is done away with, there’s a completely hollow feeling about it. We know he’s nobody. There are two other people higher up the ladder to be worried about.

And, dangit, where is Nina?

That’s where the season 2 finale failed. The three or four episodes leading up to it were fantastic. Everything ran a mile a minute. Big things happened. Obstacles got thrown in Jack Bauer’s way that we thought he’d never overcome. (Well, we knew he’d overcome them, but it would be difficult and at a potentially great cost.) The tension ramped up.

When the final episode hit, the now traditional Jack Bauer gun battle scene occured, Jack lost, and the big big and big big big bad guys both got away, and the President was attacked.

Oh.

I still love the series, as unrealistic and hokey as it can get at times. You really do need to suspend large levels of disbelief, but that’s the fun in the show. Don’t think about why nobody heard the helicopter until it was right behind them. Don’t question the lunacy and the paranoia of Big Oil starting WW3 and setting off nuclear weapons to affect the price of crude. Just enjoy the ride. It’s an old-fashioned Saturday afternoon serial on steroids for today’s network television.

Jack Bauer is, simply put, the man. But the writers undercut him at the end of season two.

Next season: Jack Bauer needs a pacemaker, and terrorists all over the world acquire microwave ovens to protect themselves from him. Kim goes psycho and catfights with Kate Warner for 24 episodes, guaranteeing a ratings bonanza.

SARS spitting

I don’t know just why I find this funny, but:

China is cracking down on spitting in the wake of the SARS problem. They’re giving out bags to spit in. Those bags carry the following warning:

“Spitting on the ground is dangerous to your health, and spit contains infectious diseases. But with one small bag in your hands, your health will always be invincible.”

The report issues by the government on this is titled, “Directive on Launching Activities to Transform Vile Habits.”

The story is at The New York Times. This means two things: Free registration is required, and the author may or may not actually be reporting from Beijing. Wait a few days to see if there’s a 14,000 word correction to the piece.

I suspect Fark.com will pick up on this shortly, if they haven’t already…

Boston Public firings

Latest layoffs: The actors who play Zack and Colin (the New Kid On the Block) have been let go. So has the actress who plays Marcie, the pregnant student assistant in the principal’s office, and the actress who plays the principal’s daughter.

No great shakes, I suppose. Marcie’s storyline was at a natural conclusion, and Harper’s daughter should be in college next year, anyway.

The important thing is that Harper, Guber, Ronnie, Marla, and Harvey will still be there. The show just hasn’t been the same since Senate got stabbed and the Hook Lady and Guber broke up. =(

BOSTON PUBLIC moves to Friday nights this fall. Is this the beginning of the end? Perhaps. Cast turnover is no big deal with this show, though.

Google changing blog log?

It seems that there’s a problem with Google search results due to the sheer number of links found in too many useless blogs. So Google looks primed to remove blogs from its search engine, and give it a separate tab.

Blogs would be a very useful addition to Google if it weren’t for the fact that there are so many of them out there talking to themselves.

New Releases, May 27 2003

Here we are again, reviewing this week’s New DVD Release List. More money to throw down the drain.

Remember how bad I said the Fall 2003 TV schedule was looking? It’s so bad there’s one show on there called “The Mullets,” or something equally as stupid? Well, now DVD is jumping on the bad hair bandwagon:

American Mullet (2001)

No thanks.

Burning Down the House (2001)

Sadly, I don’t think this is another Talking Heads concert video. But if you do want to see one of the best concert films ever, STOP MAKING SENSE by The Talking Heads is highly recommended.

Charlie’s Angels: Season One (5-disc set) (1976)
Charlie’s Angels: Superbit (2000)


Again, no thanks. Am I the only one who just doesn’t get this? If I want chicks who can fight, I’ve got plenty of options these days. That includes T3, X2, MATRIX 2, TOMB RAIDER 2. And while the new CA movie may have Robert Patrick in it, that’s not nearly enough to get me to the theaters to see it. And is that Henry Rollins in the previews, or someone who just looks vaguely like him on a quick cut?

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Complete Season One (5-disc set)

Whoa, boy. Everything is coming out on DVD from the world of TV, isn’t it?

Good Burger (1997)

Did you know that this one was written by Dan Schneider and directed by Brian Robbins, both from TV’s HEAD OF THE CLASS? What a great sit-com that was.

Homicide: Life on the Street: Seasons 1 and 2 (4-disc set) (1994)

I didn’t get into this series until the third or fourth season. But, damn, was it a fixture on Friday nights for a few years. It was a Can’t Miss show, and I want to go back and see the first couple of seasons now. I’ve seen a couple of episodes in reruns on Court TV, but it’s not enough. Groundbreakingly good network television. They don’t do stuff like this anymore, unless you go to cable.

The Pianist (widescreen) (2002)
The Recruit (2002)


One won an Oscar. The other had Al Pacino. I’m sure they were both very good movies, but I’m passing.

Another reason to love Diet Pepsi



I’ve been diabetic for 16 years now. I drink Diet Pepsi. I know I look “too skinny” to need to drink Diet. I’m not really that skinny; I just hide it well. And I prefer Pepsi over Coke because it tastes sweeter and less like liquid chemical.

That having been said, Pepsi is now in the process of giving away a chance at a billion dollars on a TV special to be hosted by the great Drew Carey later this year. Under every bottle cap is a printed code. You go to their website, log in, and enter the code. Presto! You’re entered in the sweepstakes. The web site is done off of Yahoo, so if you already have a Yahoo ID, you’re half way home.

The most impressive thing about the contest so far has been how legible the printed codes under the bottle caps are. They’ve done contests like this with M&Ms and Pepsi before, but usually the codes are so blurry and awful that you have to enter in three different guesses at what they say before you come up with a legitimate code. Not this time. Oh, no. The codes are fairly clear now. Haven’t had a problem in the half-dozen entries I’ve submitted so far.

It is my destiny to win a billion dollars on television. So you all can stop wasting your time in entering now. I’ll be sure to thank you all when I win in a few months. =)