Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Final Countdown: ARRESTED Rocks and more

How amazing were the last four episodes of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT?

Anyone who is a fan of good TV owed it to themselves to check out these absolutely brilliant final adventures of the hapless Bluth clan. For two hours, we were treated to a virtual mini-movie - a tour de force of hilarious comedy that pulled no punches and ranks up there with the best of Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and the rest of the classics.

Michael's desperate attempts to hold his family together. George Michael and Maebe's incestuous-or-is-it? romance. Gob's need to put on a show, even if he is the only one who deosn't see his own awfulness. Lindsay's narcissm and total ineptitude. Tobias' walking punchline, the joke that never really gets old, played to perfection by David Cross. George Bluth and his sleaziness, Lucille and her manipulations. Ann (her?). Steve Holt! The bannana stand. ANYONG (Hello!).

These last four episodes contained so many great jokes, so many hilarious moments, so much brilliant writing, so many great inside references and not-so-subtle jabs at Hollywood, so much great character stuff, and yes, so much heart (in its own twisted roundabout way).

Arrested Development -- a legend in its own time. Assuming this is the end, it damn sure went out with a bang. Congrats to all the actors, writers, and producers who contributed to this great show, and thanks.

My grade: A+

MORE TV REVIEWS:

THE OC - Ugh. That's about all I can really muster to say about this week's pathetic episode. Why I keep watching, I can't really say. It's a sad situation when on one hand, Johnny was such a lame character that I wish they'd just forget about mourning him and move onto new stories, yet on the other hand, the lack of emotion that anyone other than Ryan and Marissa shows over his death is just ridiculous. Oh sorry, son, one of your three friends just fell to his death ... why don't you come to our Valentine's Day dance tonight, that might make you feel better? At this point, is there anyone left who actually cares about the Ryan-Marissa relationship? Seth and Summer? Julie Cooper and what's-his-name? Another character in Kaitlin shows up for 3 weeks then leaves, sure to never be mentioned again. TERRIBLE. My grade: D

SMALLVILLE - Another somewhat weak episode. Some good acting by Alison Mack as Chloe, who did her best to portray someone possesed by a ghost. But come on, this is the FIVE-BILLIONTH episode about someone's mind being altered by an outside force! EVERY FRIGGIN WEEK someone is possesed, changed by Red Kryptonite, mind-swapped, etc., and enough is enough! When is this show going to take a chance like it did in the first half of this season and actually do REAL storylines that MEAN SOMETHING? As usual, the strong characters and great visuals made this slightly more than the sum of its parts, but other than its nicely done horror film feel, this ep didn't have much going for it. My grade: C

VERONICA MARS - Great ep this week! On one hand, this show was all about the fundamental - it put together a great self-contained mystery that left you wondering whodunnit. On the other hand, it had a ton of small hints and clues pertaining to the season's overarching bus-crash mystery, and a lot of intriguing new details came to light. Awesome character moments with Wallace, Mac, Logan, and the rest. Too bad this episode was up againt both Lost and the Grammys, and few saw it. This show so badly deserves a bigger audience. My grade: A

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE - Every so often this series does a really, really weird episode, and tonight's was one of them. While it was funny if not somewhat disturbing to see Malcolm and his mom, bond while each is bedridden with mono, the Hal storyline was downright hilarious (as is often the case with Hal storylines, thanks to the brilliance of Bryan Cranston). Points off for two plot points that have already been done on the show though. Malcolm and Mom forming a temporary understanding only to regress back to their usual tension-filled relationship, and Hal realizing that the neighbors all hate them are two storylines that have already been covered. Oh well, this show still brings da funny. Enjoy it while it lasts. My grade: B

@ WORK:

The final countdown begins as I prepare for my last few weeks in the page program. Pretty weird to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's not like I'm going very far - just down Barham Blvd to Universal, where I'll still be working for NBC.

Thanks to everyone, by the way, who offered congratulations in the last few days, I really appreciate it.

And for all those who've been asking ... no, I still don't really know exactly what to expect in my new job, nor do I know exactly what I'll be doing, or what my typical day will consist of. Ah well, guess it's going to be a learnign experience in more ways than one.

My big hope is to get some much-needed TIME OFF i nthe next few weeks. Let's hope that I can make it happen.

And ... that's about it for now. Gotta rest up for the final stretch up in A-203, PRIMETIME development.

TOMMOROW: 24!

FEB 22nd: AEROSMITH!

FEB 23rd: Parents visit ...

FEB 27th: NEW job!

MARCH: Pirate Adventure?

THIS PAST WEEKEND: Our Vice-President SHOOTS AN INNOCENT MAN!

Yes, my friends, we are in good hands.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

LOST: The Long Con

So some quick thoughts on LOST before I pass out from exhaustion ...

-- Tonight's LOST was, easily, the best episode of the season. This was the first Lost in a LONG time where I was glued to the TV the whole time. Even with the Grammys on one channel, the NBA on another, and Veronica Mars (being taped of course) on UPN, this Lost held me captivated for the entire hour. Things HAPPENED. There were twists, turns, and unexpected surprises. The producers took things in a pleasently dark and uncompromising direction, turning Sawyer from a sanitary, FCC-approved and ultimately likable badass into a total, 100 % no-good bastard, a con-man through and through. And the transition worked brilliantly, and for once the flashbacks were actually compelling in their own right and mingled nearly seamlessly with the main plot on the island. If previews are any indication, the writers have finally decided that it's time for business to pick up on the show, and if so I wholeheartedly approve. Great acting all around in this ep. Plot-wise, it's very smart of the writers to recognize that we as viewers are getting sick of Jack, who has become annoyingly self-righteous and whiny. So to see Sawyer put him in his place and assume control of the island was a great turn of the screw. The brilliance is that even as, on the surface, Sawyer becomes the real villain on the island, Jack too becomes a darker character in his insistence on finding the guns on the island. And of course Charlie showed new sides to himself as well. Yeah, it's been a while since I've cared enough about this show to analyze it in this kind of detail. But I'll give 'em credit - this episode gave us something to think about. My grade: A

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

A Post Full of GRAVITAS

What is GRAVITAS?

Well it's basically the word du jour of the moment, and as an avid wordsmith I thought I'd share a little history for those of you who are pop-culture afficianados like myself and may be wondering, "hmm, why did everyone start using that word?" Much like "WMD," "ginormous," and other words that have come into our lexicon in the last few years, gravitas is everywhere now, but unlike other stupid, overused words, gravitas is great. I have gravitas! My blog has gravitas! My new screenplay has gravitas! This Lean Cousine Three-Cheese Ziti is bursting with tasty GRAVITAS, dammit all.

Now here is how I figure this word came to prominence, and surprisingly, this all ties into a little show called 24. Basically, Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer himself, appeared late last year, I believe, on of all things Inside the Actors' Studio with James Lipton. Lipton, as he often does, asked Kiefer a really weird, random question. The question was: "What is your favorite word?" Kiefer thought for a second, and then said, in his badass Jack Bauer voice: "Gravitas."

For some reason, this answer made waves on the internet, and suddenly every entertainment website is using the word gravitas in reference to 24. But something funny happened - suddenly EVERYONE starts using this word, and now it's popping up in news articles, magazines, and random conversations. My opinion: great word, and I aspire to use it more often. And I also find it appropriate that Jack Bauer and the actor who plays him have joined the likes of Bill Walton, Ric Flair, Beavis and Butthead, and other great pop cultural luminaries who have, for better or worse, influenced the words that I say and write. Which is why I now tend to respond to even the most minor of mini-crises by excaliming (sometimes into a fake walkie talkie, no less) "We have a situation!" Jack Bauer would be proud. Or he might look at me, shake his head in disapproval while anxiously checking his watch, and say: "dammit!"

Gravitas. That's what this blog has.

And before I delve into even more 24 stuff, I want to quickly address one comment left on my previous post. No, I don't like Grey's Anatomy, and yes, I can say that without ever having watched it. Why? Because as a general rule I don't like or watch shows set in hospitals. I just don't. I have little interest in watching shows about doctors or their patients. Now, I have heard so many good things about Scrubs that at some point I will really have to check it out, as it seems like one of the few shows on the air right now that I might actually find funny. But, I can't help but think that if the show took place in a seeting that was NOT a hospital, I'd enjoy it more. I mean, why do so many shows have to be in hospitals? They're depressing and horrible, for the most part. And who really likes doctors? No offfense to any doctors out there or anything. So even if they are supposedly quality shows, I have little if any interest, in principle, in watching Grey's Anatomy, House, ER, and all the rest.

Plus, isn't Grey's Anatomy pretty much a chick show?

(Yes, this is coming from the guy who loves Gilmore Girls. Though I see that as more of a geek show that is mistakenly thought of as a chick show.)

So, back to 24:

- This week's TWENTY-FOUR:

Hmm, there's some conventions of this show that everyone has grown to love despite their absurdity. The inevitable mole in CTU, the always-expected Jack vs. CTU lone-wolf vs. procedure conflicts, the over the top Jack torture scenes. Even once annoying characters like Chloe have grown on us, so much so that scenes like last season's Chloe as gun-toting badass phase made us stand up and cheer. But, there is one cliche that I doubt even the most hardcore 24 fans cheer when it pops up like clockwork. I mean, does anyone really want to see MORE storylines about completely random family members of CTU agents who are psycho / criminals / amnesiacs, etc? NO! So I'm sure that many were like me and cringed when Sean Astin got the call from his street thug sister asking for money, and then later when he was beaten up in the parking lot by a bunch of cronies she worked for, who then proceded to STEAL HIS WALLET. Ugh ... I mean, sure, scenes like this have their own degree of camp value, but still ... are they really necessary? How about more fleshed out villains, more focus on other players in the Logan administration, etc? And then, we had the other everpresent reality of 24 -- innocent, waifish looking women are DANGEROUS when they want to exact some sweet, sweet revenge on their tormentors.

Okay, so it sounds like I complained a lot about this episode. And I did. But come on, this is 24. Overall, this was still a pretty damn good episode. Some highlights:

- Whoever played the old Russian computer guy was awesomely evil.
- Good stuff with Logan and his wife.
- Gotta love Edgar's smile when Chloe told him to shut up.
- Interesting, Walt hung (hanged?) himself ... or DID he ...?
- Jack having to refrain from kicking the crap outta the Russian was great.
- John McCain cameo!
- Gravitas!

So yeah, a lot of absurdity, a few unwelcome cliches, but some good setup for the next few episodes, and overall a fun ride: My grade: B


Okay, I think that's about it for now. Still waiting for updates about potential job stuff. Still stressing out about what the next few weeks are going to have in store. And yes, still pondering the mysteries of David Hasslehoff's "Hooked On a Feeling" music video.

Wassupwitdat?