Monday, September 26, 2005

Free Chris!

UPN and Google Video are offering a free streaming video of the entire premiere episode of Everybody Hates Chris here.

Very cool.

?sdrawkcaB gniklaT saW tlaW

So, I didn't catch this at all on my own, but it turns out that, when Shannon saw weird, wet Walt in the jungle on last Wednesday's Lost premiere, the reason that you couldn't figure out what he was saying -- and neither could Shannon -- was becuase he was talking backwards.

Check out this link, courtesy of Lemon-Red at 815 Blog, which reverses the audio in that scene. Walt clearly says, "Press the button. The button is bad."

What button? [The execute button on Desmond's computer in the geodesic hatch?] Why is it bad? [It controls the "monster"/alerts the Others/releases a deadly toxin?]


Larry David: Clearly Not a Father of a 4 Year Old

Last night's season premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm included a running gag about whether one should pick up the phone when engaged in conjugal activities.

Clearly Larry David doesn't live with a 4 year old. Setting aside the notion of when parents of preschoolers find time for intimacy (Hint: usually not at times when the phone is likely to ring), answering the phone quickly falls outside the job description of such parents. Having a 4 year old is like having your own little (completely unreliable) answering service.

I'm certain Wasteland Kid would have picked up the phone and would be asking -- in an inappropriately suspicious voice -- "Who are you?" long before one of us could roll over and pick up the phone.

(I know, Amanda Sue. TMI.)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Part of Lynette Scavo Will Now Be Played By . . .

Beau Toksin-Hurbrow.

So, did anyone else notice that Felicity Huffman's forehead was freakishly immobile during the first interview scene on tonight's season premiere of Desperate Housewives?


Friday, September 23, 2005

Desperate Housewives Makes You Smarter

I knew it.

In what appears to be a little fluff piece about the new season of Desperate Housewives, there's a great little bombshell dropped at the end. According to this book, today's serialized shows (like DH, Lost, 24, and Reunion) make us smarter.

Take that, Wasteland Spouse!

"Suvivors Strike Back" or Survivors Can't Blog?

There's a group blog at the CBS survivor website called "Survivors Strike Back."

It sucks.


Caught a bit of both Martha's and Donald's apprentice.


Regarding Martha's bunch of Apprenti: Proving that, in the right circumstances, "creative" is a synonym for "annoying."

Regarding The Donald's crew: Melissa needs a serious reality check (which ain't gonna happen on a "reality" TV show). Melissa, my dear, it is NEVER the case that a uniformly reviled person is hated for his or her beauty, competence, and brains. Never. Intimidating? No. Psychotic? Perhaps.

Lost Head Scratchers

The Lost premiere, predictably, rocked my world. I love that show.

Some highlights:

  • Who'd have ever guessed that MTV's The 70s House would be in the hatch? Not me.
  • "Make Your Own Kind of Music" -- Mama Cass rocks, plus my 7th grade choir sang that song at my spring concert. You gotta, make your own kind of music. Sing your own special song . . . .
  • Hurley's tirade: "Life's not so bad, right? Sure the Others are coming to, like, eat us all, and every once in a while someone blows up all over you, but you get to sleep in every morning."
  • The "numbers" on Desmond's high-pressure drug injection kit.
  • The sum of the "numbers" (108) appearing on the freaky-deaky mural at the entrance to Desmond's geodesic dome with the giant computer processors in it.
  • All the other appearances of indivdual "numbers" throughout the episode (e.g., time of death of the car wreck victim was 8:15; Desmond was riding his stationary bike at 16 mph before the explosion rocked his groovy underground pad; the last number in the combo for Desmond's safe looked to be 42).
  • Wet Walt: ghostlike, mouting something to Shannon, and spooky!
  • Locke explicitly acknowledged what we saw in last season's finale: that the "monster" appeared to be just a column of weird, black smoke.
  • The victim of Jack's future wife's bad driving was likely Shannon's dad. (His last name was Rutherford.)
  • Charlie is starting to be a bit of a rabble-rouser. Just wait until he does the smack.
  • We didn't even get to see what was going on with the rafters . . . even MORE to look forward to in next week's episode.
  • Important lesson: No scene is a throwaway on this show. (Confession: Got a little bored with Jack's stair running flashback scene. Stopped paying close attention. Then (duh!), Desmond the "almost" doctor shows up in the hatch and I find myself wondering what the heck he and Jack talked about in that scene.) Repeat after me: I must pay attention to every detail of every scene of Lost.

Best. Show. Ever.

Can I get a holla back?

Everybody Hates Bedtime

I'm reading The Secret Garden to Wasteland Kid at bedtime. I'm intrigued by how much WK enjoys the sometimes ponderous story and equally hard to grasp broad Yorkshire dialogue (which I, of course, manage to completely mangle in an attempt to make it sound authentic). WK instists that we read a couple of chapters a night. These are not short chapters, mind you.

In addition, I think we've done a few thinks right as parents. On one count, though, we've utterly failed. WK refuses to fall asleep alone. I have to lay there in bed until WK is in full-on REM. The slightest attempt to sneak out of the room before WK is sawing logs causes freakish and immediate wakefulness and requires the whole routine to start over from scratch.

What does this have to do with TV? It means I often completely miss any show that airs in the 8 o'clock hour (sometimes into the 9 o'clock hour as well).

Case in point: Everybody Hates Chris. Totally missed it last night. After an entire summer looking forward to this show (see here, here, here, and here), I'm on bedtime duty.

Have I mentioned how much I want TiVo?

Emmy Thoughts

Nearly a week later, I've almost recovered from the horror of the Emmys. What a shitty show that was . . . all around.

I was bored to tears. I was annoyed by the Emmy Idol competition. And I was in shock at many of the winners.

I've already mentioned my disdain for the Emmy voters' choice of winner for dramatic actress. Boston Legal produced the dramatic actor and supporting actor statues for James Spader and William Shatner. Not that either of these two guys is an embarrassment, but there were certainly more deserving performances last year. It was almost as if the Emmy voters forgot to watch TV last year. Sure, Spader's Alan Shore breathed life into the floundering Practice a year ago, but the new show floundered itself some and Spader's performance began to wear thin. Did the voters just forget about all the other great performances and shows? How about Kiefer Sutherland, Ian McShane, and Hugh Laurie, for instance. Sutherland, in contrast to Spader's sometimes shallow approach, continues to imbue CTU agent Jack Bauer with depth and charisma that lifts 24 beyond the thrill-a-minute freakshow it might otherwise be. (It would still be a freaking entertaining thrill-a-minute freakshow, but I'm glad Sutherland helps the show transcend that level of entertainment.) He deserves to be awarded for that.

Don't even get me started about the snub of Terry O'Quinn's fascinating portrayal of parapalegic-cum-suvivalist/sherpa/priest John Locke on Lost. Shatner's scenery-chewing, self-mocking, yet one-note, portrayal of Denny Crane just doesn't hold a candle to the depth and mystery O'Quinn brings to the Lost island.

The Everybody Loves Raymond lovefest was a bit misplaced as well. I've never been a fan, but even many hardcore fans of the show whom I know couldn't justify the wins of Raymond and its cast members over Desperate Housewives and Arrested Development.

Tony Shalhoub might be great in Monk. I wouldn't know. That vote, though, strikes me as a tragically unhip choice in the guise of hipness.

Thank goodness Lost took home the big prize. It almost made up for the flood of lameness that preceded it (and the aftershock of lameness that followed it . . . the Raymond win).

Finally, I Can Sleep Soundly Now . . .

that John O'Hurley has been crowned the real winner of Dancing With the Stars.


Little Chance of Curbing My Enthusiasm

With overwhelming and enthusiastic anticipation for the new season of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO, I provide you with the link to a great little NYT story about Jeff Garlin and his Curb alter ego, Jeff Greene.

Here's a marginally interesting piece from

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Note to self: I don't need to see that!"

Sadly, it appears too many people followed Aunt Sassy's mantra by not watching The Comeback.

HBO cancelled my favorite celebreality spoof.

I'll miss Valerie Cherish, whose reality show "The Comeback" was ironically renewed for a second season after just one episode.

"Of Our Days, And Our Nights"

Were you watching the Emmy telecast when Conan O'Brien spoofed the "Emmy Idol" competition by pretending to sing the theme to Charles in Charge?

Damn him.

I haven't been able to get that song out of my head for 2 days now.

Charles in charge of our days and our nights . . . .

Monday, September 19, 2005

Lost Spoilage Alert

According to MSN (via Newsweek online), there's some serious Lost spoilers somewhere on the message boards on I'm not looking though. As much as I want to know, I'd like the experience to be genuine -- to the extent that's possible on a show about an island inhabited by mysterious plane crash survivors, "Others," polar bears, crazy French ladies, and some sort of gaseous quasi-mechanical carnivorous dinosaur-like monster.

So, why am I posting the link? It's like scratching around a mosquito bite or nibbling on the crust of a pie. Not particularly satisfying, but enough to almost fool yourself into thinking you're giving in to the temptation.

Don't go read the spoiler. I don't want you to. It's probably a hoax anyways. And, if not, then don't ruin the fun of Wednesday night by reading what you're going to be seeing Wednesday night.

Patricia Arquette? Patricia Arquette. Really? Really. Un-uh! No, really.**

I think there'll be more Emmy blogging later, but this just couldn't wait:

Patricia. Arquette. Lead. Actress. In. A. Drama. Series.

For Medium. I know, Medium!!

I always thought that was more descriptive of the quality of the show than of the paranormal abilities of the lead character.

Clearly, some Raymond fans got frustrated realizing that Patricia Heaton would likely lose to one of the Housewives in the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category (props to Felicity!), so they decided to vote for a Patricia in the weaker drama category. Ingenious!

**Transcription of an internal conversation I had with myself around 10:30 pm yesterday.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

"The Season of Die, Woman, Die"

In today's Washington Post, Lisa de Moraes offers a disturbing critique of this season's crop of new shows in her article "Female Characters, Made to Suffer for Our 'Art.'" The article highlights six storylines from the new shows that particularly illustrate a pattern of extreme violence and violent crime against women. (The shows are Killer Instinct on Fox, Close to Home on CBS, Supernatural on the WB, Invasion on ABC, and Criminal Minds on CBS. I can't figure out what the sixth show is, the one in which "pregnant [women] get pulled out of the shower at night by huge, hideous, wolflike creatures who rip the fetuses out of their wombs.") De Moraes argues that the writers/creators of the shows and the network executives act both blind and deaf to this phenomenon, probably purposely.

Why? Because, she suggests, these shows are chasing the ever elusive 18-34 year-old male demographic. Apparently, young men like to see young women tortured, killed, probed by aliens (more likely, left naked after being probed by aliens), and brutally raped. Or at least that's de Moraes's hypothesis. Moreover, she suggests that there is likely oneupmanship at work here as well.

To be sure, de Moraes has engaged in a bit of cherry-picking here. She's selectively highlighted a fairly small sample of the larger number of new shows to illustrate her point. Nevertheless, I think she's done a fair job of pointing out the staggering level of violence on TV shows. And the victims appear to be disproportionately female.

This is interesting, coming after the "chicks who kick ass" genre that blossomed only a few years ago. These shows, like Buffy, Alias, Xena, Snoops, and many others were/are violent, but the women were/are seldom the victim of the horrific violence that de Moraes describes.

Let's also be clear that men don't come out smelling like roses in these shows. Aside from Supernatural where the baddies are, well, supernatural, it's men who are perpetrating these disturbing deeds. Still, there's a definite difference between reflecting the reality that men are most often the perpetrators of violent crime and reflecting the"reality" of these heinous crimes by re-creating them for our viewing "pleasure." I don't think that de Moraes is wrong when she suggests that it reveals more than just our desensitization to, or even obsession with, violence.

The parade of horribles from the Season of Die, Woman, Die might not be so, um, horrible, if the creators, writers, and network executives had some higher purpose in reflecting the so-called reality of these crimes. But, reading de Moraes' account of their answers at press tours makes one wonder if they think at all about these kinds of issues. One executive, whose shows include all of the CSIs, Close to Home, and Criminal Minds, explains that they should probably study the issue to see if it's a problem. Probably. Study.

Does this mean I won't watch the shows or that I think that violence on TV has grown to epidemic levels? No and maybe. I'll watch some of these shows. I won't let Wasteland Kid watch them, but I wouldn't have anyways. I fall within that target demographic, so I'm part of the problem. My tastes trend, as you may have noticed, toward the more fantastic when it comes to violence. Ripped from the headlines doesn't really appeal to me at all. Is that a distinction with a difference when it comes to de Moraes' point? Probably not. I don't think it's appreciably (or morally) "better" to be entertained by fantastical violence rather than realistic violence. And we seem to be entertained by violence quite a bit. That's why I think it's important to maintain a healthy sitcom and relationship drama contingent, so at least if violence is rampant it doesn't have to be overwhelming.

But, in the meantime, you guys -- and it does seem like the writers, creators, and network execs are mostly men -- in TV creation and development should lay off the kinky/sadistic/fetishistic killing of women. It's not a pretty reflection on you or us. It shouldn't be entertaining.

Record Breaker

Suresh Joachim broke the Guiness world record for longest time spent watching TV this week. 69 hours, 48 minutes.

The rules stipulated that Suresh's eyes had to be glued to the screen except for a 5-minute break every hour and a 15-minute break every 8 hours. He watched only ABC shows for the entire 2 9/10 days. His viewing marathon was conducted in the lobby of WABC-TV in Manhattan. "Highlights" included: a couple of episodes of Tony Danza's talk show (yeah, I know, I figured it would have been canceled already too), Star Jones reminiscing about her wedding and reminding everyone she's a lawyer on The View, and hour upon hour of pre-dawn World News Now. Luckily for Suresh, WABC doesn't carry The Maury Show.

Just to clear up any potential confusion: I am not Suresh. Even Wasteland Fan has limits.

Threshold Thoughts

I caught the two-hour series premiere of Threshold last night on CBS. I liked it and will likely stick with it for a while to see how it develops.

My biggest concern is that, unlike Lost, the show will be almost entirely plot-driven. There were some hints that character history will play into the show a bit. Molly's (Carla Gugino) character, a contingency expert, suggested she'd lived through a catastrophe and that her father had walked out on her and her mother when she was young. So, that's something. I'm not so sure the tough-woman-with-daddy-issues angle will be all that interesting, but we'll see. The other characters were pretty thinly sketched so far. Cavennaugh (Brian Van Holt), the ghost-agent-with-the-hots-for-Molly, appeared to be mostly muscle and little else. Data, er, I mean, Dr. Nigel Fenway (Brent Spiner) is a serial divorcee and a crusty genius. Ho, hum. Lucas Pegg (Rob Benedict) is a paranoid, geek-boy engineer, who's engaged to be married in just over a month. Despite the character's lack of definition, I was most intrigued by him and Benedict's portrayal. Arthur Ramsey (Peter Dinklage), the linguist and mathematician, is a debauched, gambling womanizer. Not sure there's anywhere to go with that. Finally, sorry, but Charles S. Dutton just looked uncomfortable, out-of-place, and ill-used as JT Baylock, the Deputy National Security Advisor.

Still, the plot is interesting enough to keep me interested for a while with the hopes that the characters catch up.

On another note, William Mapother is fast becoming the Christopher Walken of prime time TV. When a show needs a creepy and convincing, yet oddly engaging, villain-ish character, he's the go-to guy of the moment. And he fills the role well.

"It's All About Character, Character, Character"

So sayeth Damon Lindelof showrunner and executive producer of Lost in an interesting article about the show in today's online version of the NY Times (registration may be required to access the story, I'm not sure).

A few things struck me about the story. First, it's always good to be reminded of the plasticity of the plotting of weekly dramas. Even though the writers/creators often have a pretty clear idea of where the story is headed, the details are often up for grabs. The article notes the evolution of the relationships among Michael, Jin, and Sun as an example. The hostility between Michael and Jin and the hinted relationship between Michael and Sun were dropped as the writers became invested in Jin and Sun's complex relationship, as developed in their flashbacks. Even more revealing, the writers noticed that Harold Perrineau and Daniel Dae Kim had become good friends on set and leveraged that connection in the reconciliation of and growing respect between Michael and Jin. Fascinating. And evidence of the appropriate use of story in service of character rather than the other way around. Lost is really a great example of how keeping character first is vitally important, even in the midst of one of the best and most complex plots on TV.

Second, Damon Lindelof is only 32. Perhaps this little factoid jumps out at me a bit more as I approach another birthday, but that's darn impressive.

Third, Carlton Cuse and Lindelof intimate that they'd prefer to take up Stephen King's challenge in a recent column (upon which I commented here) and end the show according to the story, not the ratings. However, they admit that ABC is in the driver's seat on that decision.

Fourth, the uproar (aka, tempest in a teapot) over last season's hatch cliff-hanger is mentioned. It's odd, but I never once felt cheated by that. I thought the revelation of the "Others'" interest in Walt was a more interesting development and probably never expected to see down the hatch. As has been widely reported elsewhere, the NYT article also assures readers that the hatch plays a central part early in the second season and we'll get to know what's there. That's good enough for me.

Finally, I'm fascinated at how harshly Lindelof dissed the storytelling in the Matrix trilogy. It's accurate criticism. I'm just surprised.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Early Demise of Survivor

If you're anything like me, the first couple of episodes of a season of Survivor make or break it for you. That's when you get to know the castaways and speculate how the personal dynamics will play out for the rest of the season/game. I just can't join in the middle of a season and make enough sense of the interactions and personalities to care.

So, the sad/good (it depends on your perspective, I suppose, and I haven't quite yet figured it out for myself) news is that I had a meeting with my (couple hundred) students last night during the premiere of Survivor Guatemala. I won't be able to watch it next week either. Then it conflicts with Alias beginning on the 29th. Clearly, this season is not in the cards for me.

I wonder if I've watched my last episode of Survivor.

WILY TV 9/14/05: That MoFo Mo Po

I've tried to come up with an appropriate post to convey the shock and disbelief that accompanied my recent realization that Maury Povich still has a syndicated "talk show" on TV.

But, I just can't.

That car wreck should have lost its voyeuristic draw years -- years!! -- ago. It's approaching its 15-year anniversary, people. Fifteen. Years.

How is it that Sally, Ricky, and Jenny can't make it, but Maury (who lagged behind in terms of "substance" and "entertainment" even among this slow crowd) is still alive and kicking? Sure, Jerry Springer's show is still around, but it raised the genre to a freakish sort of macabre artform and a was cultural phenomenon. So, it makes sense that Jerry would outlive the others. (Heck, that show's even been adapted into a hit opera.) But, Maury? Oh, the humanity.

What I Learned Yesterday on TV: There are some depths of TV fandom even I cannot endorse. That mofo Mo Po has got to go.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Knock 'Em Dead Amanda Sue!

They'd be insane not to jump at the chance to have you!!

Sorry for the break from the theme, but Friend of Wasteland Fan Amanda Sue Pickering has a big day on Friday and we wish her well.

(Posting this a bit early in the hopes ASP sees it before she leaves.)

A Note About the Gilmores

Despite my abundance of love for all things Lorelei and Lorelei, I won't be blogging about the new season of the Gilmore Girls. Why, you ask? Well, Wasteland Spouse and I (and Wasteland Kid) only caught on to the Gilmores about 18 months or so ago. So, we watched the first few seasons on DVD and, as any sane and reasonable humans beings would, we loved it.

I have surreptitiously kept up on the current happenings in Stars Hollow, but Wasteland Spouse has not, preferring to let the story unfold for her as if she'd been watching the episodes in first run. Thus, WS is content to wait for the DVD releases of seasons 4 and 5, before watching season 6. I respect that choice. So, I won't be spoiling WS's experience by blogging about the current episodes here.

Except that I will say . . . (Hey, WS, stop reading here!!!) . . . what an odd twist of fate it's been watching how Rory's life is almost the mirror image of Lorelei's in some ways, especially when it comes to their relationships with Richard and Emily. Lorelei becomes estranged from R&E when she stumbles off the blue-blood path; Rory detour causes her to grow closer to them and away from Lorelei. Or, perhaps the issue is that Lorelei is more like Emily than she cares to believe . . . .

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Kingly Challenge

On, Stephen King challenges the Lost executives/creators/writers to tell the story and let it end. He urges them to violate the "Prime Network Directive" (i.e., "Thou Shalt Not Kill the Cash Cow"), if the story calls for an ending before the ratings do.

I agree with King. (He's surely breathing a sigh of relief at that news!) While I hate to see a good show end, I hate it more when a good show deteriorates into a not-so-good show before it ends. King points to The X-Files as the prototypical example of the latter. I point to The West Wing as a current example.

Thanks to Trailhead for the tip.

P.S. I tend not to agree with King that the secrets of the Lost island lie in it being Purgatory. I don't think the islanders are dead. I'm not sure what I think, but I have faith in JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof to tell a more original story than that. (On the other hand, if the island is Purgatory and the islanders are dead, it won't ruin the journey for me, which in the first season was among the best ever.)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Premieres and Piddle Stains

Here's a handy dandy schedule of this season's premiere dates.

The following dates each will make me piddle myself in varying degrees:

Tomorrow: My beloved Gilmore Girls come a callin' (also House and Supernatural premiere).

Friday, September 16: Threshold (giving it a shot)

Monday, September 19: The Bluths! The Bluths! The Bluths! Arrested Development begins another season of dysfunction.

Tuesday, September 20: My Name is Earl, followed by perhaps the most piddle-worthy premiere of the season (though Alias and Lost certainly give it a run for the money) in Nip/Tuck

Wednesday, September 21: Guilty pleasure alert . . . America's Next Top Model dukes it out with Martha's version of The Apprentice, followed by those airline disaster survivors on Lost.

Thursday, September 22: Everybody Hates Chris (which will, after next week, be taped to make room for Alias). P.S., I'm so over The Donald. Sorry, won't be watching him this season.

Sunday, September 25: This night will take an extra big dose of Shout to clean my piddle-soaked tighty-whiteys, with Desperate Housewives, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Ricky Gervais's new show Extras all premiering.

Wednesday, September 28: Oh, Miss Mars, you spunky little PI . . . Veronica Mars gears up for a promising sophomore season.

Thursday, September 29: Alias is the shiznit. 'Nuff said.

This list has worked me into a bit of a fanboy frenzy.

Excuse me while I roll over for a smoke . . . .

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Witness to Tragedy

Four years ago today, on a Tuesday morning as I was preparing to head out the door to work, I flipped on the Today Show. I remember telling my wife, as I watched the live feed, "Hey, it looks like the World Trade Center is on fire." Shortly after that, I watched in horror as a commercial jet crashed into the second tower.

That day, we experienced a terrible tragedy as a nation. (Of course, my experience, from the landlocked and directly unaffected Hoosier state, was nothing in comparison to those in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania.) For all the "couch potato" and "vast wasteland" pejoratives that are thrown at television and television watchers, it was the TV that riveted us in the heartland that day. It brought home the terror of the victims and the excruciating panic and grief of the survivors.

TV may be rightly subject to the accusation of contributing to a parade of horribles, but on September 11, 2001, TV bore witness to a tragedy and, in doing so, united us as a nation in grief and resolve.

Actually, Nobody Appears to Hate Him

More hype for Everybody Hates Chris.

Fox took a pass. UPN picked it up. Will CBS try to steal it?

Details in the linked story.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Reunion: Can Concept Save Poor Execution?

I caught the premiere of Reunion last night on Fox.

The acting was spotty. The dialogue was a bit obvious and way too expositional. But, the concept is so intriguing that I'm willing to stick around for the ride for a few years to see if the execution catches up.

(If you watched or know anything about the show, you'll know that when I say "years," I mean "episodes" of the show. Each episode represents a year in the life of 6 friends, starting with their high-school graduation.)

There was a bit of a hiccup in terms of legal procedure, but I'll let that slide. The bigger problem was that I just can't imagine asking a friend to take the fall for me in such a major way, like Craig did of Will. But, even more than that, what was Will thinking? I mean, I understand that Will felt guilty about his fling with Samantha and that he has an inferiority complex about Craig, but going to jail for his Brown-bound buddy is just nuts. And Craig's whiney story about the DWI ruining his future was just blatant overkill. Come on, it's not like he was headed for Harvard.

Tee, hee. Ivy League humor is such fun. After all, what's more hilarious than piling snobbery on snobbery?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Precious Decade

  1. Did you know that the WB's 7th Heaven will begin its 10th season in just over a week?
  2. Did you know that the WB's 7th Heaven was still on?
  3. Did you know that the WB had a 7th Heaven?
  4. Did you know there is a WB?
My answers are (1) no, (2) only on the most subconscious of levels, (3) [unfortunately] yes, and (4) of course, and don't let tripe like 7th Heaven or Blue Collar TV drive you away from some of the other good shows.

Back to 7th Heaven. Has there been a more precious show? That Camden family sure soldiers through their "rough" times and comes out smiling. Every stray dog, stray kid, and sour old fart of a parishioner from Rev. Camden's congregation comes out smellin' like roses after a few days with the Camden clan. Oh, I know they've had their problems in the past, with mom Annie's mid-life-ish crisis-type thing and some of the kids losing their way a bit. But how many times were the Camden parents just sure one of their kids was plotting a suicide mission at the local high school, dealing drugs, or engaging in promiscuous pre-marital sex only to find out that the kid was actually washing windows for a disabled elderly shut-in or helping a newfound friend escape his abusive father? It's more sweetness than this TV fan can stomach. (Can I get a "true dat," Trailhead Spouse?)

Now, don't give me crap about "family friendly" shows and 7th Heaven "needing" to be on
TV. You don't gotta be sappy and vapid to be family friendly. Ask those Gilmore Girls (at least in seasons 1-3).

WILY TV 9/7/05: Land of the Lost Timezone

Because I live in the time zone that is the rough equivalent of the Land of the Lost, I had a really frustrating experience last night while watching TV. Fortunately, the state legislature has taken action to rectify the situation. It will just come a little to late to avert last night's crisis.

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a big tennis fan, right? Well, last night I was watching the U.S. Open quarterfinal match between Andre Agassi and James Blake on the USA Network. It was a real barn-burner; a high quality, super entertaining match. Blake won the first two sets fairly quickly and was up a break in the third, when Agassi turned on whatever it is that Agassi sometimes turns on and fought back to even the match at two sets all. Then, Ted Robinson announced that USA would be ending coverage of the match shortly and CBS would continue coverage live. He explained, quite reasonably, that USA's contract for coverage requires it to sign off and hand coverage over to CBS, except in the Pacific Time Zone, where USA continued "prime time" coverage. (It was 11:35 p.m. by my local time.) CBS would take over live coverage in place of its regularly-scheduled U.S. Open Highlights show, which airs at 12:35 a.m. Eastern.

Well, I new I was in trouble. You see, in the crazy time warp in which I live, the TV stations actually tape the New York feeds and broadcast them an hour later. So, prime time in my little world actually starts an hour later than prime time in New York. As a result, there was an hour break between when USA signed off and my local CBS station picked up "live" coverage of the Agassi/Blake match. Can you say frustrating?

As it turns out, it was a great match down to the wire. I was glad I stayed up the extra hour and watched.

What I learned yesterday (and, sort of today, if you're a stickler for time details) on TV: This is just another example of why the state in which I live was correct in finally giving in to that daylight savings time "fad." The switch just can't come quickly enough. It's been a controversial issue in the state this year. I offer no opinion here regarding in which of the time zones the state should take up permanent residence, though I actually have one. Nevertheless, I've definitely joined the camp that believes the legislature did the right thing. It took a TV glitch, though, to make me a hardcore proponent.

What else would you expect?

P.S. I know the illusion of my geographical "anonymity" has been completely shattered by this post and, yet, I insist on talking around the actual place where I live. Odd. Well, let's make it a game. If you don't know me personally, see if you can be the first person to leave a comment identifying my home state. You've got all the information you need right here in this post. In doing so, you'll free me from the silly exercise of guarding that portion of my anonymity.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

10 "Must Sees"

Entertainment Weekly offers up "10 Shows You Need to See" in the upcoming TV season.

Two observations:

  1. Four of the shows are half-hour comedies (which recently were thought a dying breed) and two are reality shows. So, fewer than half are dramas, which is what all the breakout hits of last year were.
  2. I have been looking forward to trying to catch at least an episode or two of 9 of the 10 shows. I haven't given the remaining show a single thought until now. Can you guess which one? (UPDATE: I'll give you "Three" guesses. Don't you "Wish" you knew? "Grant"ed, you may not care.)

A Moment of Silence for a TV Icon

Bob Denver has died. May you rest in piece "little buddy."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Everything But A Little Bow on Top (UPDATED)

Raise your hand if you thought the resolution to Entourage's second season was a little too "neat."

Uh, yeah, me too.

UPDATE: Charles Curtis as agrees with me to an extent, though he does point out several unresolved plot points that will be interesting fodder for the third season. The primary examples are Ari's attempt to re-establish himself and E and Sloan's DOA relationship.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"Spider Eyes"

How Valerie described Jane, her producer, on tonight's episode of The Comeback.

I still say Jane is a wolf in sheep's clothing regardless of the sympethic light in which she was painted tonight. She knew full well that Valerie would be skewered on "The Comeback." Still, Valerie is such a patsy. Jane probably could have been totally up front with Valerie about how the editing would go and Valerie would have ignored her. Does that in any way redeem Jane? No. It just doesn't make me feel badly for Valerie in particular.

I've really enjoyed The Comeback but I'm not sure what lesson I'm supposed to have learned. I suppose it is the inanity of celebrity and the soullessness of "reality" television. However, it's difficult not to conclude simply that all reality TV "stars" deserve our contempt. I'm not sure that's particularly insightful or funny.

The chocolate fountain at Valerie's Comeback premiere party, on the other hand, well, that's just genius.

Death and Drama

Over on PopWatch, the Entertainment Weekly blog on, Michael Slezak ponders whether Alias might get a much-needed shot in the arm by actually killing off Michael Vaughn. He notes that Alias suffered from two major maladies in the fourth season, one new and the other ongoing. Both involve Vaughn. First, he argues, that the chemistry between Sydney and Vaughn (former real-life lovebirds Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan) is kaput. Second, he suggests that the otherwise excellent pacing, suspense, and excitement of Alias is weakened by the fact that none of the major characters -- and even none of the minor good guy characters -- ever dies. In fact, at this point, we "know" they won't. Slezak's point is that both of these shortcomings could be completely remedied by allowing the car crash (which I discussed here) to be the vehicle to shuffle Agent Vaughn off this mortal coil. (Get it? Vehicle . . . okay, whatever.)

Let me premise this by saying that I don't necessarily agree with Mr. Slezak that Alias's fourth season was disappointing and certainly not more so than the third. Nevertheless, I'm particularly intrigued by this notion of the expendability of major characters being a way to ratchet up the drama and suspense on a show. I think Mr. Slezak is definitely onto something. Both 24 and Lost have proven that few of the main characters are unexpendable (save, perhaps, the Jacks on each show). Even Desperate Housewives proved, with the deaths of Martha Huber and Rex, that all but the 5 "housewives" are likely expendable. As a result, on those shows, when a character faces danger, my sense is that the danger feels more immediate. The drama is more intense. The suspense is palpable. While it's a kick to see how Sydney's going to get herself out of her latest life-threatening imbroglio, it's not the same.

Of course, there's a trade-off for this kind of danger, drama, and suspense. We have to be willing to let go of the characters we know and love. Are we willing to say goodbye to Vaughn? Perhaps. (Although some are clearly not ready for that.) But what about Sloane? Or Jack?*** Or Sydney? Is the increase in drama really worth the loss of the show's core characters? I don't think so. After all, the soul of Alias is really the relationships, not the action.

***NOTE: What's with all the Jacks on these shows? It's like the go-to name.

Two Punches

Last week's penultimate episodes of Entourage and The Comeback featured two punches. Tonight, in the season (and sadly, for The Comeback, it might be series) finales, we'll find out what sort of fall-out those punches will bring.

On Entourage, Ari overplayed his hand at the agency. Terrance, his "retired" partner and mentor, decided to come back to work. After spending several episodes courting Vince and making Ari very nervous, Terrance made his intentions clear. Ari asked for an extension on his contract. Terrance stonewalled. Ari decided to employ his own "nuclear option," by trying to gather agents whom he thought would be loyal to him, only to create his own Judas in Johnny Drama's super-vacuous agnet Adam. Once again, Terrance had the upper hand and Ari was left without a job, without a car, and -- most devistating for Ari -- without a phone. What did he have? Lloyd, his Michelle-Kwan-in-drag, loyal, and (it turns out) exceedingly competent assistant.

So, the Entourage punch? After he learned that he'd been stripped of the company car, Ari punched the parking garage wall as he waited for Lloyd to pick him up in Lloyd's The Fast and the Furious prop car. It was the ultimate symbolic act of futility and summed up nicely Ari's missteps in the episode. He took on an immovable force in Terrance and only ended up hurting himself.

Luckily, Lloyd was there to help pick up the pieces and, in doing so, negotiated a bit of a reprieve from Ari's constant stream of racist and homophobic comments. Lloyd's no dummy; Ari better thank his lucky stars that he has Lloyd. Especially when it comes to dealing with Vince, whom Ari will have to convince to stay on as a client while trying to talk him down from the edge of career suicide as he contemplates quitting the Cameron-directed Aquaman pic.

Oh, and Ari's going to have to deal with Shauna, Vince's hardnosed publicist played to perfection by Debi Mazar.

On The Comeback, it was the punch we'd all been waiting for and it was played to perfection. The network forced Tom and Paulie G to write Aunt Sassy into the B story on the latest episode of "Room and Bored," so it could be used as a promotion vehicle for Valerie's reality show, also called "The Comeback." The episode tag involved Aunt Sassy hopped up on diet pills and dressed as a giant cupcake, while taking a pratfall.

Little did everyone know that Valerie had suffered from severe scoliosis as a young girl, which was corrected with a steel rod in her spine. Thus, the pratfall posed a real danger of injury for Valerie. Nevertheless, she soldiered on.

Further complicating the situation, Paulie G, Valerie's nemesis, was left in charge of the show in the wake of Tom's mysterious "ulcer thing."

Valerie discussed her concerns with her husband Mark, who offered to go down to the set and punch Paulie G in his big, fat gut. While Valerie rightly assumed that Paulie G would be a tough customer to please, she insisted that Mark say away. No need for violence.

As Valerie filmed the tag, a beer-and-pizza binging Paulie G refused to provide any feedback. After three takes produced nothing but stone-faced indifference from Paulie G, Valerie decided to go for broke and do the pratfall on her back. It worked and she was not seriously injured. True to her oh-so-needy character, Valerie reached out to Paulie G and sought some sort of validation. She asked if he thought they got a good take, to which he coldly responded, "I liked the first one." This was more than even Valerie the consummate trooper could take. She started to cry and protest that she could have really hurt herself. Of course, Paulie G simply tried to pass it off as a joke.

Valerie dejectedly turned to walk away, but, then, WHAM! Valerie turned around and socked Paulie G in the gut. That beer and pizza he'd been stuffing in his pie hole during the entire shoot quickly found its way to the set floor. Valerie reciprocated, apparently sickened by the sight of another person's vomit.

It was a typically humiliating experience for Valerie, caught on tape and all. Still, who knew she had that punch in her?

I can only hope that the fall-out of both punches tonight will be as fun as the build-up and execution of each punch was.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Several Things Lost . . . Oh, Gawd, I love that show!

  • Nice column (mostly) about the upcoming season Lost from E! Online's TV Diva Kristen Veitch. (Make sure you watch the video of the Damon Lindelof interview. He's hilarious.)
  • If you haven't yet visited either site, go to and
  • The first season DVD drops on Tuesday, with 8 hours of extras. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (That's me screaming like a little school girl.)

Please Excuse the Break in Blooging

I teach. My classes started this week. I've watched very little TV. The short time the TV has been on, it's primarily been tuned to USA's coverage of the US Open or to some coverage of the Katrina/levee disaster. Then, we have to turn off the TV and reassure Wasteland Kid that we will not likely be forced to climb on the roof or flee in the car to avoid an onslaught of rushing water. So, please excuse the break in the TV blogging. The watching has been either non-existent, sports, or terribly devastating, none of which lends itself to much of a Postcard.