Thursday, September 26, 2002

Some notes on the new TV season, or at least what I’ve seen of it.

New Buffy -- ehh. Giving Dawn something to do other than need rescuing is a good thing, I suppose. I don't care for or about her own little “Scrappy Gang.” And I’m not really thrilled with the back-to-high-school angle, but if getting these leftover high school tales out now means the Buffy Cartoon idea is DOA, then I’m all for it. I suppose with the exception of last season, where Buffy had to, y’know, come back from the dead and all --the season premieres have been kind of lackluster (Buffy vs. Dracula, anyone?) Odd to see such a seemingly inconsequential episode coming directly from Joss, though. With luck, that’s all part of the plan.

Firefly -- Jury’s still out on this one. I enjoyed much of the premiere, and I especially liked that they’re allowed to kill people for laughs. I hope FOX continues to let Joss keep plenty of anti in his antiheroes.

John Doe -- Hey, this was pretty damn good, I thought. Except for the voiceover in the premiere; that can go away. But I’ll be happy to keep the VCR running another hour on Fridays.

Twilight Zone-- Of course I have the most to say about the show I saw the least of. I watched a little over half of the new TZ Wednesday night. What people forget or overlook about the original Twilight Zone is that many of the episodes were, at their cores, morality plays. And heavyhanded ones at that. So, I dunno...points for sticking to the original spirit of the show, even if following that path will turn off viewers (including yours truly).

In the one segment I watched, a white guy, whose failure to assist a panicked black man in the street the night before led to the black man’s death at the hands of skinheads, gradually assumes the physical appearance of the dead man, and then of course runs into prejudices from his neighbors, wife and, of course, a meeting with the skinheads. This didn’t make me ruminate on society’s ills and what I can do, as an individual, to make this world a better place. It made me think of the brilliant National Lampoon Yearbook Parody, which includes a mock high school literary magazine in which the male drama flake writes a story about waking up in a world where whites are a substandard race persecuted at the hands of blacks. Oooh, edgy.

The other segment, with Shannon Elizabeth, lost me after about 5 minutes. I had a Sopranos tape to watch. I know it’s not fair to judge an anthology show after half an episode, but I’m sure there are a lot of good horror and SF --which is what people really love and expect from the Twilight Zone -- short stories out there. Why waste time with segments that are as obvious as the Vic Morrow episode from TZ-The Movie.

and speaking of The Sopranos -- We’re getting tapes from a work connection within a week of the episodes. The woman who replaced Fairuza Balk as “Danielle” - the undercover FBI agent sucking up to Adriana -- is pitch-perfect. And I like Fairuza.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

ready for further injury

Just like in Blue Crush, only I'm a guy, I'm not hot, I'm a complete novice at the activity in question, and a host of other differences, I am preparing to get back on the proverbial horse after a sporting-related injury for the new curling season, which starts in late October. This week I actually sat down and tried to reconcile the possible schedule with a bunch of concerts and limited-run movies I wanted to check out.

Fortunately, the Chicago International Film Festival falls at the beginning of October, so I'm clear to try to hit some of that. A hazier situation is the Kurosawa/Mifune restrospective at the Music Box. In terms of concerts, I will flat-out miss Beck and the Flaming Lips (not only are the Lips opening for Beck, but they're his backing band -- VERY promising, and I envy anyone who's going, anywhere), but will be able to see both Sleater-Kinney and the Soft Boys. Not sure if I can hit The Residents or John Wesley Harding.

I still need to get some appropriate shoes. Maybe next weekend when I'm driving through Madison.
Michelle & Chris had their baby last night after a four-day -- yes, four day -- labor. Boy. Nine pounds, 14.5-inch head, which prompted some choice So I Married An Axe Murderer quotes.

We paid a visit today and he is astoundingly cute. I don't get gushy about kids other than the nephews, but this one really is gushworthy. None of that Winston Churchill look common to newborns. He looks like he's long past that phase; apparently a nurse said he looks like a one-month-old already.

Name TBD, though it's a good bet he won't need the last initial when starting kindergarten.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

You've seen Sweet Home Alabama. You've seen it over and over again. Unless you're new to these color talkies we have these days, in which case SHA is a veritable rollercoaster of plot twists, and you will be at the edge of your seat as this madcap romance resolves itself, while also making insightful comments on politicians, homosexuals, New Yorkers, and Southerners.

Otherwise, it will be of interest to those who think Reese Witherspoon can do no wrong. And she does little to no wrong here, actually, unless you count risking becoming the next Meg Ryan by taking this trite cupcakey role.

There's one good laugh involving Civil-War re-enactments, which I'm told appears in the trailer. And it's nice to see Heavenly Creatures' Melanie Lynskey (whom director Andy Tennant also used in the much better Ever After). Beyond that, it's a long evening.

the facelift

Blogger had been rejecting my old template for a few days, so I had to make a change. I'll replace the links when I get more time. I'll also throw some links into the above review.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

news from the homestead

1. The Twins clinch the Central, to provide a welcome distraction for the Vikings, who very well could be worse than the Lions this year. But it's all over, of course; they'll go 4-and-out and be happy with it, and the chances of extorting a stadium out of the taxpayers will increase. Despite the incredible bullpen, I'd have to agree that even 1987's staff of Viola, Blyleven, a whole lot of rubes, and Reardon closing stood a better chance. The Twinkies' best hope for postseason success? pray that the Western race takes its toll on both Oakland and Anaheim.

2. Minneapolis Planetarium closes

The library building itself was incredibly ugly. I'll be glad to see it gone. Going to the planetarium -- both on fieldtrips and with my folks -- was one of the educational highlights of my childhood. And I'm not sure how Jesse -- with a former teacher as his Lieutentant Governor, could veto the funding for a new one.

Monday, September 9, 2002

now that was well done!

I went to a screening of Chaos tonight, a 1999 Japanese film by Hideo Nakata. Nakata also directed Ring, which is getting a US remake this fall starring Naomi Watts. Chaos itself is in the remake queue, currently with Benicio Del Toro attached, and Robert DeNiro possibly attached as a producer or actor.

Anyway, seek out the original; it's mighty damn good, and you just know the remake is going to get bunged up in some manner. A bit of Memento thrown in there, with some Diabolique (Clouzot) and Vertigo for good measure.

Saturday, September 7, 2002

My one and only 9/11-related observation

Anyone else find it odd that FOX aired Starship Troopers Friday night? Whether you perceive this film as a wicked satire on American jingoism (as I do -- Ann Coulter may as well have a walk-on in the movie) or a horrible bloodbath, surely airing it within a week of the 9/11 anniversary is on the inappropriate side. But then they're getting the American Idol chickiepoo to perform at the Lincoln Memorial observation, so appropriateness is right out the window.

new title

Yeah, I got sick of GBTW. And so did you, but thank you for politely keeping mum about it, along with observations on my weight and any thinning hair issues.

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

The Alison LaPlaca Open is underway for the 2002-03 season, and here are my picks and why. I have a feeling this will be an unsuccessful title defense; this seems much tougher than last year for some reason. Plus I screwed up my ballot, so that the show I thought was most likely to get canceled, is getting just one bonus point. I don't know if Mike is going to give me a break on that or not. But all my shows are going to go away, so it won’t matter a bit. Right? Right. So, then:

10-Friends (NBC) -- Apparently someone is still watching Friends, thought it’s no one I know or would associate with. Deep down I think that the cast will get moneywhipped into returning for more, which is why this was supposed to be at the bottom of the list.

9-Buffy the Vampire Slayer (UPN) -- Sarah Michelle Gellar reportedly wants out. I don't think UPN ever got the ratings boost it expected from the show. Last season had more low points than highs, and those highs were once again ignored come Emmy time.

8-Hack (CBS) -- I think this will this year’s prestigious-cast show that dies early. Before we had Deadline, with Oliver Platt, Lili Taylor and Hope Davis. Last year there was The Education of Max Bickford, which did manage to last a full season. Now we have this new project with Andre Braugher, who’s really just too good for television.

7-Fastlane (FOX) -- This was apparently the joke of the fall upfronts. It’ll either become this season’s Wind on Water, or will develop a loyal following, but I suspect Tiffani Theissen will get the boot midseason.

6-Firefly (FOX) -- I’m interested in Joss Whedon’s new project -- if Buffy’s going to wither on the vine, then I at least want him to be churning out some good TV in its place -- but the FOX Friday Sci-Fi block is usually a kiss of death, X-Files notwithstanding. This will be the Show I’m Slavishly Devoted To Which Will Last Less Than A Season, so I may as well profit from it, like I didn’t with Undeclared and The Tick last year.

5-Septuplets (FOX) -- The hell? Where did this come from? Septuplet teens? This being FOX, I’m sure they won’t have the host of physical and mental problems that real septuplets have. It’s on Thursdays opposite CSI, more NBC comedies, and the intriguing Push, Nevada, so buh-bye.

4-MDs (ABC) Opposite the venerable Law & Order, as well as CBS’s competing medical drama, Presidio Med. I doubt two medical dramas can survive long in the same slot, and MDs has the less-interesting cast.

3-Without A Trace (CBS) - Too many crime dramas on CBS, and this one’s up against ER. The leadins are strong -- Survivor and CSI -- but in the end the inexplicable slavishness to NBC on Thursday will win out.

2-The Twilight Zone (UPN) - I’d like this to stick around. I think there’s room to showcase new short-fiction talent on television. I think the choice of Forest Whitaker as host is interesting. But it’s in a slot of death -- West Wing will draw the adults, Birds of Prey will take the fanboys, and Fastlane may or may not take the MTV kids. Perhaps USA or Sci-Fi will pick it up and it’ll flourish there, but it’s not gonna last on the network.

1-Bram And Alice (CBS) -- Dear God, this looks awful. Then again, Baby Bob is still kicking around.