Thursday, September 22, 2005

LOST Strikes Back!

Okay - it's late, I gotta go to sleep, and dammit all I had to work at Last Call With Carson Daly today, so I'm not quite right in the head at the moment ...

But, gotta give some quick LOST season premiere thoughts:

- My thoughts are these: THIS should have been the season finale, or at least elements of this episode should have been incorporated into last spring's ridiculously frustrating season-ender. Why? Because this episode was a perfect blend of mystery and resolution - finally, our heroes descend into that freaking hatch and what is inside is actually pretty darn intriguing, if not simply a catalyst for about 1,000 new questions. Still, at least things are MOVING plot-wise, and where we were at POINT A for waaaaaaay too long, we finally seem to be on a path towards that ever elusive POINT B ... know what I mean? Anyways, I gotta say that the opening intro to this episode was simply awesome - totally mysterious yet a perfect setup for what was to come. And the flashbacks worked on multiple levels, in that they told a pretty involving self-contained story about Jack's past, yet also perfectly set up the cliffhanger ending, as new character DESMOND surfaced on the island and made a big, big impact. Gotta love when storylines simply flow together in sync like that. Some intriguing new questions posed as well ... Does Jack also possess some kind of supernatural power (used unconciously to heal Sarah?)? Was Desmond's first encounter with Jack simply chance, or something more? And what exactly was he injecting himself with in the opening montage? Plenty to think about, and at this point I was plenty relieved to have anything to think about regarding Lost other than why are the show's writers and producers a bunch of lame-asses who won't show us what's in the stupid hatch? So yeah, Lost is back. And after seeing a trifecta of totally mediocre pilot episodes for bandwagon-riding new series - the poorly produced Threshold, Surface, and Invasion - Lost returned to show all the imitators how it's done. That's just good TV, baby. My grade: A

- Meanwhile, what about INVASION, the new ABC show following Lost? In a nutshell, it was about the most glacially-paced scifi show I've seen in a while, and one that was barely interesting enough to be able to sustain viewers for one episode, let alone a whole series. Because unlike Lost, which savors all its weirdness and pulpy trappings despite its focus on character, this show seemed to resent the very fact that it's called Invasion and that it is, clearly, supposed to be about aliens ... or something. I mean, of the 44 minutes or so of show that we got here, about 35 of those minutes were about the oh-so moving story of a family struggling to find itself, and about 9 minutes was recycled crap that was either done first and better on The X-Files (see the repeated use of the term E.B.E. like it's so cool and original when clearly that's been done), or simply seems to be a retread of Invasion of the Body Snatchers or about a million other similarly-themed scifi movies. Oh yeah, most of the characters on this show were annoying as hell, especially the kids. And my new pet peeve for high concept shows: you need a REASON for the characters to be involved in the drama. We can only suspend disbelief so much that regular people in extraordinary circumstances wouldn't call the police or whoever, for example - as happened here when the dad and his brother decide to not tell anyone about a dead body because it might, MIGHT, just be part of a government cover-up or whatever. Um, no. The premise should force the action, as on Lost when ordinary people deal with crazy stuff because they have no chice, seeing as how they are STRANDED ON AN ISLAND. So no, Invasion - despite some nice set-pieces and movie-like production values, is by no means a worthy follow-up to LOST, and that's too bad. Well, I guess it's okay since the last thing I needed was another good show to watch. But still, it's a shame. I guess. My grade: C


- Glad to see that MY NAME IS EARL did so well in the ratings. Hey, sometimes I gotta root for NBC, seeing as how I work for them and all ... and EARL has soooo much potential, curious to see the next few episodes and how they pan out, and hopefully this will help THE OFFICE out as well.

- On the other hand ... WHY AREN'T YOU WATCHING ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT?!?! It freakin' sucks that the ratings continue to be so low, when this show is the BEST COMEDY ON TV. Maybe it would help if it wa paired with an established show on Mondays ... one that is nearly as funny and at one time had a huge fanbase and lots of critical acclaim ... one whose quirky style paved the way for Arrested to be on in the first place ... say, Malcolm in the Middle? Do you hear me FOX? Do you?!?!?


- hmmm, kinda like working at Dennis Miller, meaning lots of standing around and seeing a lot of weird ppl in the audience who go because they are paid to be there. But oddly, I somehow ran into Jordan, one of my old roommates from my days staying at Columbia U in NYC (while I was interning for Conan) last year, at the show, after not having been in contact for over a year now! How random is that? Anyways, the show itself has an awesome set, and hey, I did get to see iconic MTV VJ Bill Bellamy in person (okay iconic may be a bit strong, I realize ...). And there was a so awful it's kinda funny interview with Molly Simms, who told a story so rambling and hard to follow that nobody had a clue what she was talking about. And the house band, Max and the Attack, was actually pretty rocking, kind of a Reel Big Fish-esque punk / ska band with a bit of a harder, metal edge to them. And I did see a new all-girl rock band called The Like perform, which was some pretty decent stuff even if they were kind of a wannabe female Strokes. But man, Carson has gotta work on his comedic timing a bit, that's all I'm saying. And please, get this man some better material! Some of the lines he is given are just brutal.

Bring back Dennis Miller, dammit all ...

Tommorow: Ellen, once again. And, interview for an assignment! No pressure .....

And finally: I've decided that MYSPACE.COM is a very scary website. A quick browse through people living in my area revealed that there are some MESSED UP people living in Burbank and surrounding cities (and some who I suspect live in my very apartment complex, but that's another story). Anyways, all I know is that there are some women who simply have no shame who really, really, should have a little shame. And by a little, I mean A LOT. Goodnight.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Emmy Awards: The Good, The Bad, and Shatner

What up?

Have a good weekend? Hope so, cuz guess what man, it's almost Monday again. Depressing, huh?

So, about those Emmy awards ...

First of all, let's be honest. Who, really, cares about the Emmy awards? As if Hollywood isn't self-congratulatory enough, we need to see a three-hour awards show every year just so that a bunch of out-of-touch industry types can tell us who and what, in their humble opinions, doesn't suck? Please. I mean, let's look at a show like Crossing Jordan. Now I'll be the first to admit, I have never seen an episode of this show in my life, and I don't have any immediate plans to ever watch it. I know of no one who watches it, as a matter of fact. The only confirmation I have that anyone actually ever watches this inexplicably long-running show is the occasional tourist who ventures into NBC and mentions that they like the show. Now the show seems to get decent ratings. And I'm sure it's, well, GOOD. But is it great? Is it REALLY worthy of all these nominations for stuff year after year? Years from now will people be remembering how that one episode of Crossing Jordan changed their lives? Now on the other hand we have a show like Malcolm in the Middle. This show revolutionized comedy on TV. Without it there'd be no Arrested Development or Everybody Hates Chris, and sitcoms would still primarily include laugh tracks. But for Malcolm, no nominations. Look at 24 - it's fresh, exciting, nothing else like it on TV. I mean this show is already a CLASSIC in its own time. It's nominated, sure, but it doesn't win. So really, who gives a crap about the Emmy awards, which seem to always be about 10 steps behind the curve. And who knows, maybe Crossing Jordan wasn't even the best example to use, but you get the point.

That being said ...

I'm sure I've already covered the obvious omissions, but one more time - where in the name of Fox Mulder are the nominations for Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls, and King of the Hill for animated series? And why is Desperate Housewives considered a comedy? Is it funnier than Arrested Development? Um ...

Of the nominations that I actually care about, probably the biggest upset for me was William Shatner pulling out a win over Terry O'Quinn, who had to be hands down the best single performer of this past TV season for his role as Locke on Lost. Also, while I can't say that Lost didn't deserve recognition as a whole, as I greatly enjoyed the show, this should have been 24's year. 24, in it's fourth season, was the best show on TV this year, consistently riveting from starto to finish, unlike Lost which definitely had its ups and downs plot-wise, and finished with a very anticlimactic finale. Not to mention that Kiefer, not the overrated James Spader, should be hailed as best lead dramatic actor. Otherwise, I guess it was obvious that Arrested D's win last year was going to be a fluke, and that this was the year of Raymond - awards shows never fail to be sentimental like that. And at least Housewives didn't win best comedy, and Arrested took home the award for writing. Finally, Jane Kaczmarek is overdue some critical love for her iconic comedic role on Malcolm, and by the way, when will the hilarious Brian Cranston ever get his due for his consistently great performances on that show as Hal? What else? Well, I guess it's almost redundant at this point to honor aging British shows that everyone in the know already knows are great, but it does seem a bit absurd to nominate The Office and Ali G for awards that they didn't seem destined to win. Still, is there is anything out there better than The Office or Ali G? Nope - those are the two funniest shows of the last 5 years.

Anyways, though he was once again overshadowed by Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, my man CONAN O'BRIEN provided the comedic highlights of the telecast with his award presentation and with his writing staff's video intro for their Emmy nom. Hilarious stuff, including Conan belting out the themesong from Charles' in Charge~! and totally dissing NBC in a single breath. Classic. Speaking of John Stewart though, he once again got in a nice joke about Jewish writers (at least there is precedent for someone like me making it in the industry ...), and also indirectly bashed Jay Leno by praising Dave Letterman as the Johnny Carson of his generation. That hadda hurt, Jay, but let's face it, while the ratings may not reflect it, Letterman = the late night icon of the last 20 years, whereas Leno = well, I really should NOT be dissing the guy I work for ... Nice tribute to THE man though, Johnny Carson, by Letterman, very eloquent when called upon to be so, as always. Weird that Dave, Jay, Conan, and Craig Ferguson were all in the same room at the same time, but even more exciting was ...

The World's Finest Newscasters - Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, teaming up for perhaps the real highlight of The Emmys - getting a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd. These men are real titans of television, and honestly it is a sad sight to see the ranks of Real Newsmen so depleted following their retirement and the passing of Peter Jennings. While actors and other TV "talent" come and go, these guys are true icons - people who really did help change the world and push the media to new heights. So when people make broad generalizations about how TV is for idiots, all one needs to do is remind them of the class, dignity, and trust that people like Brokaw brought to the news each evening. Great segment.

And our old friend Ellen was host. Hmmm ... she seemed a little off tonight - I guess that comes from having your own talk show that is all about you and your own style and then having to go out into foreign territory and work on someone else's terms. Just glad I'm not one of the unlucky few who has to be at NBC at 4:30 am tommorow morning to work at Ellen's live post-Emmy wrap-up show. Ouch, that is gonna be rough.

Oh, and Kristen Bell shoulda won Emmy Idol, even if it was about the stupidest idea ever.


- great to see KING OF THE HILL back tonight in its tenth and possibly final season. As the Simpsons and Family Guy falter, King of the Hill is amazingly, consistently good. And look at tonight's premiere for example - holy lord - one main plotline that goes from the start of the episode to the finish - what a concept! Hank Hill continues to be one of the best characters ever put on television, and it is always a pleasure to watch his adventures unfold. My grade for tonight's episode: A -

- Simpsons, while not great, was at least better than last week's pure Suckfest. Some funny gags and an opening intro featuring a claymation GUMBY make this worthy of a B. Family Guy, meanwhile, was also decently funny, though not as sharp as it could have been. Still, some very funny moments (Gilmore Girls parody was kinda classic, orgy on the island was pretty crazy ...). Another grade of B. Odd though how they were running Family Guy segments on the Emmys while the show itself was on FOX.

- caught the new CBS sci-fi show THRESHOLD, which I am sorry to say completely blew. And oddly, this was hyped up as being the best of the new crop of high concept dramas. It had a pretty good cast, but the two hour pilot was one of the most boring, pointless, poorly-paced pieces of TV I've seen in a while. It was filled with useless techno-babble, terrible visual effects, bland and boring characters (let's see, you have an overworked female lead, Brent Spiner as a scientist, a perverted dwarf, and the guy who played Ethan Rom on Lost playing the exact same character!), and a been-there- done-that premise which took all two hours to unfold into an underwhelming cliffhanger. Don't get excited, fanboys, this is definitely NOT the second coming of The X-Files. Hell, the first season of the friggin' 4400 on USA was about ten times better than this. My grade: D

So yeah, the best new drama of the year, at this early stage, is still, easily, the great PRISONBREAK.

- Speaking of good dramas, all hail the return of Cartoon Network's JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. Yeah, you heard me. For a DC fanboy like myself this show is pure gold, and for everyone else this is the most action-packed, epic, and yes, ADULT adventure show on TV today outside of 24. And it currently stands as the last bastion of the animated Dini-verse, the brilliant series of animated programs featuring the writing of Paul Dini and the art stylings of the great Bruce Timm, which started with Batman: The Animated Series and continues to this day with JLU. As long as the definitive voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, is on board (and he is), then you can't go wrong. Now why was this amazing show not nominated for an animated Emmy?


Finally, a break from last week's Ellen madness. Tommorow I return to work at Leno, and Tuesday is unfortunately another day manning the NBC ticketbox of doom. Wednesday it's my first foray into the unknown and unfunny realm of Last Call With Carson Daly, and Thursday it's back to Ellen for a double dose of dancing discord. And wil lthere be interviews for assignments? Let's hope so. And will those interviews lead to actually GETTING an assignment? Let's really hope so. This is it, make or break time.


Is it just me, or do they put WAY too much cream cheese on bagels when you order a bagel with cream cheese at most local bagel establishments? For this reason, I think it's always a good idea to order cream cheese on the side.

And like Conan at tonight's Emmys, I look back on what I have written on this blog and say to myself: "I have no job ..." But then I realize that they can't touch me since my contract to take over as Tonight Show host in 2009 is signed, sealed, and untouchable. Oh, wait ... dammit.