All Along The Watchtower

films . videos . television

Friday, October 27, 2006

Did Ellen Tigh know?

Last week's Battlestar Galactica featured a scene in which Saul Tigh poisoned his wife, Ellen, as a punishment for her betrayal of the resistance movement. The scene has caused some debate on-line about did Ellen know she was being poisoned or not.

In his podcast commentary, Ron Moore didn't exactly clear it up one way or the other, so the guys at TV Squad when right to Moore and asked him the big question. And here is the answer:
"We intentionally blurred this point so as to be somewhat ambiguous here. It's not entirely clear in the scene whether she knows or not and I liked leaving it for the audience to decide for themselves ultimately whether Ellen participates in her own punishment or dies as Saul wants her to -- peacefully, and unaware of what's happening to her."
A new episode of Galactica airs tonight at 8 p.m. on SciFi, following a new (to America) episode of Doctor Who. Quite possibly the best two hour block currently on TV.

Nobody's Watching: Tribute to Lost

This is hysterical. Definitely worth a look!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Scrubs returns!!!

NBC is bringing back Scrubs sooner rather than later.

The comedy will return for its sixth season on Nov 30 at 8 p.m. CST as part of a new Thursday two-hour comedy block.

Freshman series 30 Rock is moving to Thursdays, following Scrubs. The kick-off of the return of the two-hour comedy block will feature "super sized" installments of My Name is Earl, The Office and 30 Rock on November 16.

It's good news that Scrubs is coming back, but the time slot is a competitive one between that little crime show on CBS and that little hospital show on ABC. Hopefully people will get tired of gore and bad mysteries on CBS and the never-ending interpersonal drama in a hospital on ABC and tune in for the hilarity that is Scrubs.

No word on the fate of 20 Good Years, but it doesn't look good. The show's three fans are very upset.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

24: Season Six Preview

Here's where it could get interseting--season six of 24 vs Heroes. Who will be the winner in the ratings?

And I'm putting Studio 60 on notice--you have until Christmas to convince me not to rewind my tape of Heroes or 24 and watch it instead on Monday nights.

The first four minutes of Borat

Check out the first four minutes of Borat, coming Nov 2 to a theater near you.

24 Seaon Six Trailer Debuts Today

At 2 p.m. CST, the trailer for season six of 24 premiere on-line. It's also going to be shown on some huge screen in New York City as well.

Will it reveal who the villain of season six is or what the threat for the season is?

We'll find out later today...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Does Studio 60 Suck? Of Course It Does!

I'm done with this show. Aaron Sorkin churns out dialogue on a weekly basis that would make the writers of the later seasons of M*A*S*H* choke.

USA Today's Robert Bianco has a critique of what needs to be done to fix the show. All seven of his bullet statements are certainly on-target. Let me add one more bullet-- to the back of the head. This show should be cancelled, and soon. Whatever they do, they'll do it with one less viewer.

How does this show continually fail to do anything but capture the mediocre self-importance that is the Sorkinomatic Script Generator's continually hammering the themes of how a mediocre self-important television program is the most important cultural institution of the last fifty years? Let me count the ways.

Spoilers follow:

Nate Corrdry's parents come to visit.
Are they cardboard stereotypes of Middle Americans? Of course they are!
Have they heard Abbott & Costello's "Who's On First?" routine? Of course they haven't!
Everyone knows the Fly Over States are culturally illiterate.

DL Hughley realizes he's the token Garrett Morris.
Does he decide that hiring an up and coming black comedian as a writer will elevate the material he performs? Of course he does!
Is this comedian he and Chandler go to check out a cliched hack with material that plumbs the depths of "You ever notice that white people...?" Of course he is!
Do they find the answer to their prayers in a black comedian that is bombing terribly with original material? Of course they do!
Does it remind the viewer of how they took a black kid from out of nowhere to make him President Sheen's little buddy? Of course it does!

Harriet Notalent's baseball playing boyfriend shows up to the party.
Is he a jerk despite his high profile gig and physical attractiveness? Of course he is!
Does he hit on Amanda Peet? Who wouldn't? I mean, of course he did!

Eli Wallach shows up quite literally out of nowhere spouting Alzheimerian gibberish. Is he rescued from security by the dude from thirtysomething? Of course he is!
Do his random words make sense to one of the super-literate geniuses that populate the Sorkanian universe? Of course they do!
Have I used both Alzheimerian and Sorkanian in the same paragraph? Of course I did!
Did he turn out to have landed at Omaha Beach? Of course he did!
Did we get a little history lesson? Of course we did!
Did he also wind up being named as a Communist during the Blacklist? Of course he did!

Is this form of a review annoying? Of course it is!

Well, sit through an hour of it and you have a pretty good idea of what watching Studio 60 is like.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Friday Night Lights moves to Mondays

NBC is heralding it as a one-time only thing, but you never know with these types of things.

Friday Night Lights will replace Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip in the Monday at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST timeslot for one week on October 30th.

Good news if you're looking for a vote of confidence in Friday Night Lights by NBC. Bad news if you're a fan of Studio 60, which has been hemorraging ratings of late.

You can bet if Friday Night Lights holds a better portion of the Heroes audience, that Studio 60 may be out of the time slot permanently. I have to applaud the move because I think Friday Night Lights is more compatible with the audience for Heroes.

Plus anything to challenge the dominance of the horrible CSI franchise is good with me....

Good news for Tuesday shows!

The good news is that the ratings for Friday Night Lights picked up Tuesday as did those of Veronica Mars. Hopefully this means Friday Night Lights will survive because the show is really, really good.

In fact, I'd say if you haven't already--give up on Gilmore Girls and come on over to Friday Night Lights. You won't regret the move.

Also, while Veronica's jump is good, I am still wary of the juggernaut that is House returning to the time slot in a few weeks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gilmore Girls Thoughts

When did Gilmore Girls go from a show about the dynamic of three generations of the Gilmore women to a show about Lorelai and her wacky relationships? The show has lost focus and while it'd be easy to be blame the new regime for this, this was already happened long before Amy Sherman Palladino flipped the network and whoever took over the show the bird by having Lorelai sleep with Chris to somehow rebound from Luke. It really started last spring with the plot device known as April was introduced merely to keep Luke and Lorelai apart. Suddenly it's less about the characters and all about the drama. And the show has suffered since.

I could endure this if there were other things in this show to keep me interested. But the biggest sin any show can commit is to be boring. As I watched last night's episode of Gilmore Girls, I found myself not really happy or upset about anything unfolding on screen so much as just bored.

Oh sure, we got some Snakes on a Plane references, but really those stopped being hip and topical about five minutes after the movie started up. It felt like the new crew's desparate attempt to fall back on the strength of previous years. Last season, we had Luke debating the Star Wars movie and this year we have to talk about Snakes on a Plane--look at us, we're hip the show seems desparate to tell us.

But don't you see Gilmore Girls--that you're not as hip as you think you are? And what drew me in wasn't your hipness but your great dialogue, your good characters and the interaction. This season feels so disjointed. It feels like one plot comes to a halt and we have to desparately shift gears every time there is a scene change. This was so evident here as we skipped from Rory's plot to the Chris/Lorelai thing to whole Luke and Amber storyline. In isolation, there are bits of each that I like--I loved April wanting to set Luke up with his teacher. I found it interesting to see Rory make other friends besides Paris. And the saving grace of this show was Emily's plotline of getting pulled over for talking on her cell phone.

But yet, in the end, it still led to a point I didn't like. Now, I know that Lorelai and Emily don't get along as well as they'd like...but Lorelai's sheer giddiness at her mom being arrested seemed a bit out of character. In the past, we've seen Lorelai take some measure of pleasure in her mom's discomfort but her sheer giddiness at her mom being arrested here seemed totally out of character. It was almost to the level of being cruel. No sympathy or compassion for her mother, who last season was ready to accept Luke and had bought a house for Lorelai and Luke to live in when they got married. And maybe that's the problem-the show is just not ready to let anyone on it grow up. Maybe we'll see that all of this is Lorelai's rebound and explains her immaturity and bad behavoir. The thing is, the show is getting so far into left field that I may not be around to see these changes and developments.

There may not be any more Battlestar Galactica Webisodes

Remember the dark days of the mid-80s when there was the writer's strike (for painful evidence of it, see season two of Next Generation)?

It looks like we could be headed for that again, only this time it's not about the product delivered to our TV screens, but instead to the monitor screens. Part of the furor that has erupted is related to the Battlestar Galactica webisodes that led up to the third season launch a few weeks ago.

Here's the details from MSN:
Listen up, "Battlestar Galactica" fans. A war is brewing, fiercer than anything involving Cylon robots. The battlefield: the Internet, where fans can get their "Battlestar" fix with three-minute mini-episodes created especially for the Sci Fi Channel's Web site, NBC Universal, the studio behind "Battlestar," refused to pay residuals or credit the writers of these "Webisodes," claiming they're promotional materials. So "Battlestar" executive producer Ron Moore said he wouldn't deliver any more of them, including the 10 that were already in the can. In response, NBC Universal seized the Webisodes and filed charges of unfair labor practices against the Writers Guild of America, which advised Moore and producers of three other NBC Universal shows not to deliver any new Web content until they had a deal over residuals. "The guild unlawfully pressured producers not to perform," says Marc Graboff, West Coast president of NBC Universal TV.

The "Battlestar" skirmish is only the beginning as the Writers Guild heads into negotiations for a new contract with the studios next year. The talks are taking place just as shows are being delivered and promoted on the Internet and through iPods and cell phones —none of which is covered in depth by the current guild agreement. "It doesn't matter which technology wins out, the companies are going to make money, and we can't get shut out," says David Young, the new executive director of the WGA, West. The stakes are huge: viewers streamed "Battlestar" Webisodes 5.5 million times last month, doubling traffic to within two days of the premiere. By comparison, 2.2 million people showed up for the show's third-season opener on Oct. 6. Talk of a Hollywood strike is growing louder. Some 900 writers, including "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry, attended a "unity" rally Sept. 20. Says "Galactica's" Moore: "We're all heading toward a collision over digital content. Somebody's going to blink, but I don't think it's going to be the writers."
My biggest question in all of this is--Moore delivers a weekly podcast commentary on the new episodes of Battlestar Galactica. I wonder if this will be affected by the not wanting to deliver content for Internet distribution. If so, that is a shame.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

STAR TREK 2nd PILOT Deleted Scenes

Clips from the original presentation of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" for the NBC suits. This is the pilot that sold Star Trek to the network and the rest is television history.

Why this footage wasn't somehow put on the DVD sets is beyond me.

As a huge Star Trek fan, I can tell you the only adds are one additional line from Kirk about Spock's learning to enjoy his human ancestory and some shots of the crew strolling down corridors as the main credits roll. The classic Trek theme is no where to be found here and we do get an interesting new intro to the series--not the famous 36 words that start off with "Space, the final frontier..."

If you want to hear commentary by myself and my good friend, Sarah Hadley, on the full episode, you can go here or you can listen directly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Battlestar to run on NBC?

During Heroes last night, NBC aired a promo for Battlestar Galactica. The cross marketing makes sense and if it drives new fans to BSG, I'm all for it.

But rumors are flying this morning that NBC is considering airing Battlestar on NBC at mid-season. SciFi is owned by NBC/Universal, who also produces BSG. Rumors are that Battlestar could make the jump and air after Heroes on Monday nights, if NBC decides to move Studio 60 to a cushier time slot.

NBC has aired repeat episodes of Battlestar on the network as well as a trimmed down version of the mini-series.

NBC is denying the rumors at this point.

I'm assuming if BSG makes the jump it would be repeat episodes and not NBC taking away new episodes from SciFi. But you never know. The one great thing about this is that the show is filmed in high-def but SciFi doesn't broadcast in HD. NBC does which means we could get high-def BSG.

Monday, October 09, 2006

We'll Always Have Baltimore

So, last night I'm watching The Wire. As Proposition Joe is making it clear to Marlo Stanfield that he has his ear to the ground, it struck me that it all seemed familiar somehow.

Then, it hit me. Prop Joe is the Sydney Greenstreet character from Casablanca, Signor Ferrari. Ok, so the picture is from The Maltese Falcon, but just bear with me.

So, does that make McNulty the Bogart character, Rick? To further strain the comparison, Ilsa Lund's Baltimore analog would be Rhonda Pearlman and Victor Laszlo would be Cedric Daniels.

Or would Ilsa be Theresa D'Agostino and Victor be Tommy Carcetti? Mmmm. Theresa D'Agostino.

For that matter who would the Nazis be and who would be the French? Either Stringer Bell or Marlo Stanfield would have made a good Major Strasser. But the cop/Nazi connection is too ripe with comparison to pass up.

Is Bunk Moreland closer to Sam or Captain Renault? What about Freamon and Greggs?

Ok, so maybe the whole Wire/Casablanca thing doesn't really stand up under close examination. But the two fat men are too much alike for me to not think of Greenstreet saying, "As leader of all illegal activities in Casablanca, I am an influential and respected man." everytime I see Prop Joe double dealing someone.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Everything I Need To Know About Current Events, I Learned Wednesday Night

The first lesson came from Jericho. That lesson being that the Chinese are the real enemy. Or maybe the Koreans. They weren't real specific about that one. The other lesson from Jericho is that Skeet Ulrich can do anything. He can perform a tracheotomy on a child or pull the flight recorder from a crashed airliner. The most important lesson was one that everyone should know by now. Your neighbors are greedy, dumb panicky jerks. They will screw you over for a warm place to shit and clean out your grocery store without so much as a thank you.

Next we learned effective interrogation techniques from Lost. Let me tell you, from a professional aspect, The Others put on a clinic of how to break high level detainees. Juliet used the "We Know All"combined with the "File and Dossier" approach after hammering Jack with control questions and behavior modification drills.

Sawyer got plenty of behavior modification with his little Skinner Box cage. It seems fairly obvious that the kid Karl, from the other cage, will be playing the Peter Graves role in the Others' version of Stalag 17.

An interrogator's delight is for a subject to start showing off or demonstrating an overcompensation. It reveals a psychological weakness. Sawyer did both.

Kate got her a purty dress. Another great approach is one of futility. Show someone the complete power you hold over them. People generally cooperate with those who have complete control over them. From FM 34-52:
Making the situation appear hopeless allows the source to rationalize his actions, especially if that action is cooperating with the interrogator. When employing this technique, the interrogator must not only be fortified with factual information, but he should also be aware of, and be able to exploit, the source's psychological, moral, and sociological weaknesses.

The upshot of the episode was that psychologically breaking someone is far more effective than just plain torturing them.

Finally, South Park taught us that if you aren't careful, defeating the thing you hate, may turn into the thing that you hate.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Season Three Premiere Teaser

God bless the Internet!

The first ten minutes or so of the two-hour premiere of Battlestar Galactica are streaming on-line for you to enjoy!

UPDATE: The Ron Moore post is correct in how you can find the first 13 minutes. But here's a direct link to save you some time.

UPDATE AGAIN 2:23 p.m.: (Possible SPOILERific) It really turns out to be about 10 minutes of new footage when you factor our the new opening credits, the recap and the basic establishing of the premise of BSG. That said, damn it's good and damn I cannot wait until Friday night. I thought this might help but it's only made it worse.

And yes, as the music started up and the words "The Cylons were created by man" appeared on screen, my pulse picked up a bit and I felt a tingle of excitment....

I won't say more, except that it's gonna be really good.

Oh and the flashbacks do include a clip from the Webisodes, so if you've not watched, you may want to do that before Friday.

The CW's Tuesday line-up

I want to like the new regime over at Gilmore Girls. I really, really do.

But yet, tuning in last night I found my interest slowly waning over the course of the hour. I watched the show on videotape last night and there were moments I just desparately wanted to fast forward through, hoping that we'd get to something, anything happening. Or maybe we'd get to the part where the characters snapped out of it and started acting like themselves.

There were so many things happening here that just didn't make any sense. How did Luke go from three days earlier being totally in love with Lorelai to the scene in the grocery store where he casually dismisses their relationship as them not being "meant to be together" doesn't make one lick of sense. Oh sure, it could be the man trying to cover up the pain he's feeling, but it honestly felt more like one huge honkin' reset button being pushed. We're back now to where we were before season five with Luke and Lorelai unrequited but oh so cute in their banter. What's next? Rory goes back to Chilton because she didn't pass some minor class?

And while Kirk setting up an open air diner across the street was funny, the timeline again makes no sense. Does Kirk just have a million hair-brained schemes ready to go at any given moment and can easily have one come to fruition like this? And he got his liquor license in 24 hours?!? Come on now, Gilmore Girls. I know you've not been the most grounded in reality show to start with, but at least pretend like you're going to follow your own internal rules of storytelling and logic. Because it's things like this that take me completely out of the episode.

All of that plus the fact that you were just trying too hard with the pop culture references. The banter felt forced and didn't flow as well as it has in previous years.

Meanwhile, over on Veronica Mars, we had the best show the CW has showing why it's earned that title time and again. Mars is back and reinventing itself in a good way. The show is still rewarding to Veronica Mars geeks like myself who have been in the game since episode one but it is accessible enough that new fans can drop in and not feel too lost.

I saw this one on free MSN preview last week and loved it. I will give you the mystery of the week was kind of not the greatest, but the rest of the show was just sheer Veronica Mars genius that it didn't bother me as much as it normally would. The thing with this show is that it's all about the characters. Outside of Battlestar Galactica, there's not a show on TV where the character dynamics shift and change as much within not only a season but an episode. Watching how the characters constantly evolve and move foward, backward and sideways is a delight.

And then Veronica is able to throw is pop culture references and make it feel like part of the world that is Veroncia Mars, not just "oh look at how brilliant I am." For example, the genius incorporation of the word "frak" into the show's lexicon. Loved it.

Two shows on the CW, both of which should be flagship shows for the new network. One is earning that distinction and the other is fumbling it...badly.