All Along The Watchtower

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Monday, May 29, 2006

More theories on Lost

So, that season finale of Lost...

Doc Jensen over at Entertainment Weekly has an interesting new theory about what's really going on on the island. It's fascinating reading and it even explains out Dickens' Our Mutual Friend fits into the Lost universe. (Note to self: add book to summer reading list).

In related Lost news, the Lost tie-in novel Bad Twin has hit the bestseller list. There are rumors going around that the novel was ghost-written by one of Lost's bigger fans, Stephen King.

I've not read the book but it's on reserve at the library so I'll get back to you on it...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ABC announces fall slate of shows

ABC unveiled its schedule for fall 2006 this morning. Gone from the schedule are Invasion, Commander in Chief (though it may return as a two-hour movie), Freddie (guess that prediction of a second-season guest appearance by Sarah Michelle Gellar won't happen), Sons & Daughters, Rodney, Hope & Faith and Less Than Perfect. As most of you know, Alias was cancelled long ago to give the producers a chance to wrap-up the series.

New shows: Betty the Ugly, Big Day, Brothers & Sisters, Day Break, Help Me Help You, In Case of Emergency, Greg Behrendt's Wake-Up Call, Just for Laughs, Let's Rob..., Men in Trees, The Nine, Notes from the Underbelly, Set for the Rest of Your Life, Six Degrees, Traveler, ABC Saturday Night College Football.

Moves: We'll see how huge Grey's Anatomy really is when it moves to Thursdays opposite CSI and the much touted NBC show Studio 60. I wonder who will blink first? (Right now, I put the odds on NBC blinking first with its show and moving it early in the season to a less competitive time slot). Dancing With the Stars will be back on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Lost will remain where it is for the time being. Oh and just to annoy TV critics everywhere, According to Jim will be back for a sixth season.

Looking at the list of new shows, nothing jumps out and grabs my attention as a new, must see show along the lines of Lost. But we've got plenty of time for ABC to get that hype machine going and win me over...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ethan Hunt or Ethan Hawke?

Here's your handy guide.

NBC unveils fall schedule

It's up-fronts week, that magical week when all the networks renew some shows, send some shows to an early exit and try to get us excited for the next big thing.

NBC is first this week. NBC is trying to reverse the downward trend of previous years and has an aggressive new slate of shows coming out this fall. The line-up for the fall includes six new drama and four new comedies.

Among the highlights:
  • Heroes - A show about ordinary people finding out they have extraordinary powers. Sounds a bit like Buffy and a bit like the X-Men franchise. Could be good but it's got a tough time slot of Mondays at 8 p.m CST (where it will be opposite 24 come January and the mega-block of CBS comedies).
  • Friday Night Lights - based on the movie of the same name. Kyle Chandler takes over the lead for Billy Bob Thornton. Scheduled to air Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Aaron (The West Wing, Sports Night) Sorkin's new show. Stars Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet and Bradley Whitford. A drama about the going-on's behind the scenes at an SNL-like show. This one is being aggressively placed at 8 p.m. on Thursdays between My Name is Earl and the Office and ER. Can it challenge the ratings juggernaut that is CSI?
  • Kidnapped - A serialized thriller about a teenage boy who is kidnapped. Sounds a lot like they built a show around Kim Bauer if you ask me. Will air Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
  • 20 Good Years - John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor team up for a new comedy that sounds a lot like The Odd Couple. Airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. up against some little show called Lost.
  • 30 Rock - Tina Fey's behind the scenes comedy about a show that is a lot like SNL. Airs Wednesdays at 8:30.
Oh yeah, and NBC has this little thing called the NFL that will air on Sunday nights.

Scrubs is expected to be back mid-season as will Crossing Jordon. All of the various Law and Order shows are coming back as is ER.

Not making it: Surface and Teachers.

The new Andy Richter sitcom, which was reported as dead last week will be a mid-season replacement.

More details and if your favorite NBC show made it back can be found here.

Presidential address could delay start times tonight

President Bush will address the nation this evening at 7 p.m. CST. As of right now, NBC and FOX will carry the address live while ABC and CBS are on the fence about it. (It does't matter either way if UPN or the WB carry it since no one watches those networks on Monday night anyway and they'll both be gone in a few weeks).

FOX will start the season finale of Prison Break as soon as the presidential address is done and then follow it with the penultimate episode of 24 for this season. Neither show will be joined in progress since interrupting even one second of 24 would force fans to go Jack Bauer on the network. NBC would love to preempt 20 minutes of The Apprentice but Donald Trump's hair won't allow it.

UPDATE (10:42 a.m.): Presidential apprvoal ratings are expected to plummet based on this news. ABC has announced that it will join the two-hour season finale of Grey's Anatomy in progress with a recap of what's happened in the first 20 minutes for those of us in the central time zone (same thing for eastern time). The Oprah special that was to air from 7-8 has been moved.

Can I ask--does this make a lick of sense? You're putting a huge show onto a Monday night to test the waters and you pre-empt 20 minutes?!? I'm not a Grey's Anatomy fan but I can understand how the fans of the show are going to be upset about this. I recall back in the day, ABC interrupted two minutes of Lois and Clark's season premiere to show us Jimmy Carter getting on a plane.

I have a feeling BitTorrent is going to be active. Or is this just a ploy to get people to watch the show on ABC's web site or buy it via I-Tunes?

UPDATE AGAIN (10:50 a.m.): I just checked ABC's web site and TV Guide On-Line got it wrong. Seems that Grey's will air part one of the season finale that aired last night from 7-8 p.m. It will be pre-empted by Bush's speech. The entire two-hour finale will air in the regularily scheduled time slot of 8-10 p.m. tonight. Now, I just need to go talk my good friend Katherine down on that ledge (I totally understand..if FOX were to cut 20 minutes of Jack Bauer I'd be going mental).

Saturday, May 13, 2006

"Pain or damage don't end the world."

This coming season of Deadwood may be the last one, according to CNN. Apparently, HBO has not picked up the 0ption for a fourth season and has released the actors. At least Rome is coming back for a second season.

Al Swearengen: In life you have to do a lot of things you don't fucking want to do. Many times, that's what the fuck life is... one vile fucking task after another.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Classic Cliffhangers

It's season and series finale time in TV-land. As seasons come to an end, the audience is often left hanging on a cliffhanger, insuring we'll speculate all summer on what might happen next. Some of these cliffhangers will be resolved, some won't due to cancellation.

The Pheonix has a discussion of the top ten season ending cliffhangers of all-time. And while the list is good, they made some crucial mistakes.

The first is any list of cliffhangers in incompleted without acknowledging the greatest cliffhanger of all time, "Mr Worf, fire!" Apologies to Dallas and the question of "Who shot J.R.?" but when it comes to cliffhangers this one from the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is the gold standard by which all others are judged (and for the most part, found wanting). The unstoppable Borg have Picard and have altered him to be a servant of the Borg. The Enterprise has one chance to stop them with a weapon that will hopefully destroy the Borg ship or at least cripple it enough to allow Starfleet to bring the fleet to take it out. They have one chance and they've got to take it...but it means killing Picard as well. And Riker orders the weapon be used and then as the music builds to a crescendo, those three hated words 'To Be Continued" appear on screen.

The thing was that since TNG aired in syndication, you wouldn't hear a collective shout of "Nooooooooooooooooo!" all across the country. It came at different times during the week as you realized you had to wait four long months to find out what happened next. And sure, I'll admit that the resolution wasn't as strong as the episode that lead up to it. But what I do recall is one long, hot summer in the days before the Internet existed (at least in my world) to find other fans, to puruse rumors of what would happen next and how it would go, to maybe find SPOILERs...nope, instead, we were left to wonder--did TNG have the courage to kill off the lead of the show just as it was getting really good and hand the show over to Riker? Deep down you knew they couldn't...but then again, maybe they could.

So, any list without that episode is incomplete.

Also, I have to take them to task for their choice of Buffy cliffhangers. They cite season five's "The Gift" as the best Buffy season ender. Yes, it was the 100th episode of the show and yes, it was a satisfying wrap-up to a classic season. And Buffy throwing herself into hell and dying was a great way to end the season. But, when it all comes down to it, "The Becoming, Part 1 and 2" from season was better. Those episodes rank right up there among the best written, best acted and best directed episodes in all of television. Buffy must stab Angel and send him to hell to save the world. Her life in ruins from having been kicked out of school, suspected of murder, revealed her secret to her mother and been told to not come back, alienating her friends and then killing the man she loved just as his soul was restored. And then Buffy leaves town to the strains of a Sarah McLaughlin song that perfectly sums up where our favorite Slayer is. Sure it wasn't a moment along the lines of "Mr Worf, fire" but from a storytelling standpoint, it left the field wide open for the fallout from season two in season three.

It's this episode that cemented me as a Joss Whedon fan-boy for life. Damn, the man can write and direct.

Others that didn't make the list.

Babylon Five, season three: Z'hadhum - Sheridan goes to the planet of his enemies and dives to his apparent death. We're left at a crossroads in the Shadow War. The show even had enough guts to make us think Sheridan was dead for an entire episode as season four started. (Interestingly while the audience finds out that he's alive in episode two, the rest of the characters don't find out until the fourth episode of the season when Sheridan makes a dramatic return and we find out the consequences of what happened and the choices Sheridan made).

Alias, season two - Say what you will about how they've dropped the ball on this since it aired but the whole concept of Syd losing two years and Vaughn being married was pretty darn good.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, season five: A Call To Arms - "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1" started a trend for Trek of ending the season on a cliffhanger. But whereas TNG, Voyager and Enterprise would all end on a story that had to be picked up and resolved within the first episode of next season, DS9 went for a broader storytelling perspective. Yes, huge things would happen in season finales, but they were huge things that had an impact beyond the first hour of the next season and might take a couple of episodes or the entire year to resolve. Case in point: season five of DS9 when the Dominion takes the station and Sisko and Starfleet are forced to leave it. Sisko leaves his baseball as a message to Gul Dukat that he intends to return and then takes the Defiant to join a fleet of ships that will fight the war and eventually take the station back. The images of a fleet of ships flying toward the camera and then the screen fading to was great. And the thing with this one was--DS9 took six episodes to get Sisko and company back to the station in season six. There was no easy out for the crew on this one.

Battlestar Galactica, season 1: Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2 - It'd be easy to use the cliffhanger from season two becuase it was quite the mind blower. But the image of Adama shot by Boomer was great. It left me wanting more BSG right made the wait of three months seem enternal but damn was it worth it.

Farscape, season two - Die Me Dichotomy - Or as I call it, the hero loses everything. The entire second season of Farscape is one massive arc, if you know to look for it. The thing is David Kemper and company don't reveal the cards of the arc until 2/3s of the way through the season, making you re-examine certain actions and episodes in a new light. And in the second season cliffhanger, our hero John Cricthon loses it all. He is responsible for the death of the woman he loves, the bad guy catches up to him and gets what he wants, all while condemning Crichton not to death but to live with what he's done and what's happened. The final scene of Crichton on the operating table, his skull opened up for surgery to remove Scorpius's nuero chip that has plagued him all season and sent him into madness , unable to speak cohrently and screaming in rage at Scorpius ranks up there with as one of the best and most memorable. Yes, some things were resolved a bit too easily to start season three (Aeryn's death anyone?) but you have to admit this was one hell of a cliffhanger...

The X-Files, season two: "Anasazi" - The first in a long line of great X-Files cliffhangers. Mulder trapped in a box car on fire, just as he got close to finding out the truth. Man, it was good stuff.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Best. Gay. Summer.Movie. Guide.Ever has posted a Summer Movie Guide with a nod to the gay in various films this summer.

Despite their endorsement, I am not paying money for Mission:Impossible 3

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Will Believe A Man Can Fly

The new trailer for Superman Returns is now online. Before I get into that, first a little background.

I'm an unrepentant Superman geek. There, I said it. BOM has nothing on me. The Richard Donner movies (yes, he directed most of Superman II) hold a special place in my pop culture tabernacle.

If you've followed the development of this current entry in the Superman franchise, this may be old news. This movie had a real potential to suck. It might have sucked the balls of a dead Tijuana donkey. Even worse, it might have sucked like Batman & Robin.

Jon Peters, who more than anyone in Hollywood has proved the aphorism of "failing upwards", has been attempting since the early nineties to bring Superman back to the big screen, despite having virtually no understanding of the character. At one point, he hired Kevin Smith to write a script based on the Death of Superman story. In it, according to Smith, Peters demanded that Superman was not to appear in his iconic costume, nor fly. He also instructed Silent Bob to include a gay robot sidekick to Brainiac, a fight scene involving Brainiac and a pair of polar bears, and insisted that the final act of the film must consist of Superman fighting a giant spider. The script is available online. It blows chunks. Kevin, you can do better.

JJ Abrams turned in a script that was even worse. It was like a bad episode of Alias. Not that I have ever seen a good episode of Alias, but you get the idea. Luthor was a CIA agent, who also happened to be from Krypton, which wasn't really destroyed, and all sorts of other head scratchers.

Who knows what kind of lame-o crap was stewing in the Tim Burton version? Probably Superman as a misunderstood goth-kid with scissors for hands.

By the time Bryan Singer started production on this film, Warners had already spent north of a $100 million in pre-production costs. Ouch. The pressure was on for it not to suck. The ingredients are there for it to suck. Brandon Routh looks too much like Max Fischer, the costume is kinda gay looking, Kate Bosworth is horribly miscast as Lois Lane (Angie Harmon should have got that part, you know I'm right), and a host of other problems that indicated that this was going to turn out to be a turd blossom.

After watching this new trailer, I'm wrong about everything. Except maybe Kate Bosworth. This picture is going to kick serious ass. It looks great. The performances, except you know who, are pitch perfect. Routh will own the role.

What really makes this work more than any special effects or quality performances is the music. The classic Superman theme plays throughout the trailer. Johnny Fucking Williams brings this whole thing full circle and makes me believe that a man will fly.

24 Review/Recap

Day Five: 2 - 3 a.m.
If you watched the previews for next week's episode, please do not post anything about it in the comments. I tend to avoid the previews because FOX will sometimes give away some of the surprises of the final five minutes of the episode and I'd rather go in with no expectations and unaware of the twists and turns to come. I appreciate it.

I said all that because I'm going to offer some speculation here.

In the closing moments of last night's episode as Dr Romano told Logan he'd have to shoot down the plane, I began to wonder something. Are the producers trying to find a way to redeem Logan in some small way? Sure he's willing to commit treason and work with murders for the good of our country and lower oil prices, but will he be order the shooting down of an airplane simply to cover his own tracks? Will he allow innocent people to die in order to save his own skin? And I do wonder if he might not desparately want the approval of Martha so much and want to win it back so badly that he'd not allow this to happen in some sort of weird effort to win back points with her? Despite his conversation with her in this episode about how she was one step from going over the line the past few years, I really feel the truth about how Logan feels was shown last week when Martha stated she hated him. I think on some deep level, he wants her love, her respect and her admiration. And that motivation might, just might keep him from ordering the plane be shot down or finding some way to get around killing more innocent people to further whatever agenda it is that the Legion of Doom has.

Of course, the plane can't be shot down becuase it's got the Jack Bauer cloak of invulnerability on it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Jack Bauer: is there anything he can't do?

Last week, he sneaks onto a plane. This week he hijacks it and convinces the pilot to let him in the cockpit. And he gets them to turn the plane back to L.A., thus insuring he won't be too far from the plot. At this point, I really expect the plane to somehow land at the Presidential retreat so Jack Bauer can go, well, all Jack Bauer on Logan in the final few hours.

I will say one thing: the thing Jack Bauer can't do is share information. He gets the recording back and just puts it in his pocket. Wouldn't it make sense to send a copy of Chloe or call Karen Hayes with the proof and play it for her via his cell-phone? Of course, if more than one person had heard it and had a copy as proof, that would ruin some of the suspense and need for Logan to shoot down the plane.

In these types of shows, it's always interesting to be an outside viewer and be more omniscient than some of the major players in this game. I refer specifically to scenes with Mike Novak where you almost want to scream at him, "Figure it out, man!" But to see him try to piece things together based on the extremely limited information he is being given is interesting. And it brings up a question--where'd the vice president go? And will he (the v.p.) be involved in the events of the final few hours of the day?

And one more thing I learned: do not hit on Chloe in a bar if she's typing away on her laptop.

Seriously--how funny was it to see her tazer the annoying drunk guy who was hitting on her. Priceless.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Get caught up on Lost

Never watched an episode of Lost but want to sound like you have? This hiliarious article will get you all caught up.