Archive for September, 2008

This week in entertainment

  • Bravo and Lifetime both are banned from airing an episode of Project Runway until they figure out if the Weinsteins broke the first look clause of their NBC-Universal contract by selling season six to Lifetime instead of allowing NBC ( who owns Bravo) the right to pick up.
  • Britney’s new single is released. Not impressed.
  • David Cook’s new single is released. More impressed by that.
  • The Emmys were held last week and AMC scored a major victory by being the first basic cable network to win an Emmy for Best Drama. Tina Fey, though, remains the big winner, as 30 Rock sweeps the major comedy series categories.
  • Heather Locklear has been arrested. I feel really sorry for Ava Sambora.
  • Men everywhere let out a strangle cry and plot murder for hire as Scarlett Johansson marries Ryan Reynolds in Canada.
  • Dancing With The Stars premieres, and Ted McGinley is voted off before the show gets cancelled.
  • Lakeview Terrace the number one movie, Forbidden Kingdom the number one DVD, Sunday Night Football won the Nielsens, Metallica tops the album charts, and Christine Feehan’s Dark Curse tops fiction charts.
  • SNL has a fifty percent rating bump YTY thanks to Sarah Palin and the the rest of the fun that is the election.
  • Fox cancels Do not Disturb after three episodes. Mercifully ( it was heinous).
  • Buffy is coming back to TV! On HBO! Sarah Michelle Geller to appear in Wonderful Maladys.
  • Paul Newman passed away, as did Marpessa Dawn ( Eurydice in Black Orpheus), Connie Haines ( a singer), Nappy Brown ( a R&B musician), and Jazz drummer Earl Palmer.

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Aside from my burning desire to be the mother of Jason Segel’s babies ( more shocking when you realize I have three kids already and should really stop), I have always thought HIMYM was the funniest traditional multicamera on TV ( as opposed to Scrubs and  tHe Office, both single camera masterpieces). Consistently hilarious and surprisingly warm hearted, HIMYM has become the best sitcom on television.

When we last saw our favorite fivesome, Barney had been hit by a bus, Robin didn’t believe in miracles due to a tragic childhood incident that involved her dog turning into a turtle, and Lily and Marshall are Lily and Marshall. Ted, though, proposed to his recently dumped but didn’t know it till Lily told herso she went and dumped Ted girlfriend Stella. We open waiting for the answer.. and she accepts.

I love season premieres on HIMYM because Ted tells us exactly about the summer. HIMYM is told in flashback, but in real time ( kind of- it is Fall 2008 in HIMYM land). He and Stella make out a lot, Robin is getting pissy about her job, Marshall was still coping with unemployment, and Barney is rehabbing from his bus kissing incident while coping with the realization he had fallen in love with Robin.  Lily was apparently Lily all summer.

Ted almost kills Stella on night after feeding her a pesto made with peanuts, which she was allergic to. This just seems to confirm Marshall the busybody’s theory that Stella and Ted don’t need to know each other. So Ted begins a fact finding mission and it turns out that Stella has never- EVER- seen Star Wars. Ted is at first okay with it, then Marshall reminds him how great the movie is, so Ted decides to have a movie night. When Stella doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously, Ted begins a minor freak out that causes him to be banished ( and a spying Marshall follows). Stella tells Ted that she loved it, but Marshall sees through it and calls her on it. ” Can you really pretend to love a movie you hate for the rest of your life?” Stella looks at him and says ” I do.”

The B story deals with Barney trying to convince himself that he isn’t in love with Robin- and failing. He calls in Lily for help, only to make an ass out of himself on Robin’s voice mail, then on the phone when she calls back. Lily takes matter into her own hands and sets up a date,, and when Barney is so un-Barney like, Robin gets a little creeped out herself. But when Barney proves to be a good listener and supportive friend, Robin decides to pay him back by hooking him up with their booblicious waitress.  Barney does take the waitress home, but seems to realize that robin may be out of his reach.

A good start for the season, although I wish they had actually waited to try and get Barney and Robin on a ” date” and let Barney stew in the feelings for an episode ( even if it was actually the stronger of the two stories- i think the Star Wars bit works better if it was central, but it felt a little  forced). Neil Patrick Harris is still smashing as Barney, who is one of the most memorable louses in TV history, Alyson Hannigan shows remarkable comedic gifts as Lily, but I admire Segel’s performance as Marshall the most. He’s so idealistic and naive he should be boring, but there is a wackiness most geeks never get. Colbie Smulders as Robin and Josh Radnor as Ted both have been solid, but Robin was a bit underused ( although the bit about the chiropractor and the dentist were funny), and Ted seemed to be particularly dense this week ( could be love…) The writing was strong, but has been stronger.

Grade- B

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My world is a very complicated place, to say the least.

I am a David Cook fan. End of discussion. I think he’s one of the strongest talents to come out of the whole AI juggernaut and I’m a Kelly Clarkson girl from the get go. His pre-Idol album, Analog Heart, would have been on my top ten list of 2008 if it hadn’t been released years ago. I still might put it there if I can justify breaking my own rules. Anticipation on his upcoming major label debut is high, to say the least.

The first single, ” Light On”, was released this week. Like David Archuleta’s first single, ” Crush”, it was surprising. Archie’s didn’t suck, which shocked the hell out of me. DC’s also doesn’t suck, but that isn’t surprising. No, I was more shocked about how good it is considering he has those Idol folks trying to figure out how to get Max Martin to write a song for him.

No, Martin is no where to be found, but Chris Cornell is, and along with Brian Howes, helped write this future top of the chart single.  And the first thing I noticed about the music ( crucial- the music) is there is a vague familiarity to it. It’s very Cornell. There are surprising melodic choices, unexpected notes, half step key changes, and a gorgeous piano break with vocal after a rip roaring bridge that is hauntingly pretty before it launches into a rocking outro. Musically, you cannot deny it.

The lyrics are fine. Not as powerful as some of the lyrics on Analog Heart, but certainly not pablum. DC is still growing as a lyricist ( most rock stars write their best lyrics in their late twenties and their thirties), but he doesn’t resort to a lot of the cliches many his age use. But the lyrics in comparison of the music are weaker. But still better than say… the ridiculous lyrics to ” Don’t Call Me Baby” or Skye Sweetnam’s ” Human” which is a song I hate with a passion reserved for idiots.  And to the ladies out there about to tear my head off for admitting that I have a ( relatively) small issue with this song… please remember this- I love you all. Please, don’t hurt me. I’m being honest. The music is kick ass. The lyrics are good, but not life changing. Now, give me a ten minute head start and allow me to get on my plane to an undisclosed location.

This will be said, though- compare to the Magic Rainbow,” Light On” is freakin’ ” Stairway To Heaven” or ” A Day In The Life”. David will have a long career. Don’t fret.

Grade- B

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One of my mother’s favorite movies of all time was Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. She was a Robert Redford fan, and I can recall her swooning over the man, but as gorgeous as Redford was ( and still is), I was always more fascinated by Paul Newman. It was those blue eyes, icy and flashing with wisdom.  He was captivating, even when I was young.

When I became one of those movie snobs more inclined to watch Italian neo realism than Hollywood blockbusters, a Newman film would always bring me back to the land of congealed snow. Whether it was his undisciplined Rocky in Somebody Up There Likes Me, his brooding ( if chastened by the production code) Brick in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, his Fast Eddie in both The Hustler and The Color Of Money,  Hud, Luke, Harper, Butch, Judge Roy Bean, Henry Gondorff, Reggie Dunlop, Michael Colin Gallagher, Frank Galvin, or his Sully Sullivan, I came back for Newman. He was a product of his time, an actor who fell into it and who studied with Lee Strasberg, at the end of the studio system and at the beginning of the hyphenates. Newman was a great actor, who made it look easy on screen, and with matinee idol looks and actual talent, he made a huge impact in the late fifties.

But Newman was more than a pretty face. He was politically active, supporting Eugene McCarthy against Lyndon Johnson, and George McGovern against Nixon. He turned down Dirty Harry for it’s politics, donated to the Nation to keep it going, and then, of course, his active support for Ted Kennedy and his vocal support for equality rights for marriage. Newman was unapologetic about his politics, and held fast to them through out his life, even dropping former friend Charlton Heston when Heston became a fervent right winger. He was also one of the best known philanthropists in the world, creating the Newman’s Own brand of popcorn and salad dressing, and donating millions over the last three decades to children’s charities.

Newman was nominated nine times for an Oscar- for best actor in The Hustler, The Color Of Money, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Verdict, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, Absence Of Malice, and Nobody’s Fool, and for best supporting actor inThe Road to Perdition. He won for The Color Of Money, and was also awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy in 1994, as well as a career achievement award. He was also nominated for five BAFTAs, two Palm d’ors, a DGA award, four Emmys ( of which he won one, as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Empire Falls), 14 Golden Globes ( he won six), a Tony nomination ( for a revival of Our Town in 2003), and numerous critics and fan awards. One of the first actors to direct outside the studio system, he ended up directing six projects, all interesting, including a famed TV version of The Shadow Box, and the 1987 version of The Glass Menagerie.

Newman was also famed for his long, fifty year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward, which is an eternity and a half in Hollywood.  Woodward was his second wife, and they had three children together ( he also had three children with his first wife, Jackie Witte).  They worked on eleven films together, and Newman directed his wife to an Oscar nomination for Rachel, Rachel.

Newman’s acting trailed off in the nineties, as his love for auto racing took over. Owner of a CHAMP racing team with Carl Haas, Newman had raced Le Mans and admitted that it was it was where he felt the most at home.

My favorite Newman moment happens to be the entire film The Verdict, and I hold fast that it is his single greatest performance. His alcoholic attorney grasping at his last chance case, and he’s offered money to settle. In what I’m sure is frank Galvin’s only true noble move in his life, he says

“That that poor girl put her trust into the… into the hands of two men who took her life. She’s in a coma. Her life is gone. She has no home, no family. She’s tied to a machine. She has no friends. And the people who should care for her – her doctors… and you and me – have been bought off to look the other way. We’ve been paid to look the other way. I came here to take your money. I brought snapshots to show you so I could get your money. I can’t do it; I can’t take it. ‘Cause if I take the money I’m lost. I’ll just be a… rich ambulance chaser. I can’t do it. I can’t take it.”

Paul Newman passed away today, after a battle with cancer, in his home near Westport, Conn. He was 83, and surrounded by his wife, children, and close friends.

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I have been mocked relentlessly by TV snobs about my deep affection ( alright, outright obsession… so what?) for this dark cop show. And really, in the scheme of things, Criminal Minds is just that- a cop show. Is it really all that different thematically from Hill Street Blues and Dragnet?

But back to the mocking. When the show debuted in 2005, it slipped through my radar for a few months. I adore Mandy Patinkin, but even he couldn’t drag me away from the American Idolization of television at the time.  I got hooked in summer reruns, and by season two’s premiere, I was an avowed Reidaholic.

There is the immediate critical derision- the show is violent ( really? I find it less gruesome than the CSIs and the L&Os. Nothing compares to Dexter, but comparing cable to network is like comparing a Les Paul to a crappy tourist shop ukulele). The show is misogynistic ( again, I take issues with this claim. The show itself is NOT anti-woman. The show takes it’s inspiration from real life. It’s the unsubs who are misogynists. And then why aren’t people harping on the OTHER shows of the procedural genre? SVU deals exclusively with sex crimes, which are almost always perpetrated on women and children. CM is only mirroring the world we live in, folks. Change the world, change the show). The show is so dark and dreary as to be suicide inducing ( I find the show dark and disturbing, but never, ever, dreary. Save for the ridiculous ” Honor Among Thieves”.) Critics may not get the show, and frankly, they rarely get the most populist of TV shows. But the fans are devoted, to the point of religious fervor. I know. I’m one of them.

Last season’s strike shortened series created a few episodes that felt like they were two story lines mashed together. The whole season suffered from violent up and downs, from the choppy ” Doubt”, which was the third season opener. The episode had been shot for season two, but was pulled after Virginia Tech. Than the whole Patinkin thing went down over the summer, and the show was edited to tell a different type of story, and Patinkin was allowed to go off and do Shakespeare. The loss of their fearless leader, and the Catch-22 they were in, created some interesting dynamics. Jane Atkinson showed up as an FBI director, only to raise the ire of fans because she dared to question our team and their methods. Fortunately, she left them alone. Joe Mantegna showed up as David Rossi, infuriating some fans until it became clear Rossi had some issues… and he would not eliminate our new( and for me, always the true) leader, Thomas Gibson’s Aaron ” Hotch” Hotchner. Episode Seven and eight showed the writers getting their mojo back, then the powerhouse episode nine, ” Penelope”, made everyone a believer again ( Penelope Garcia, played by the perfect Kirsten Vangsness, has been a fan favorite since minute one). The show had a hit ( ” Penelope”, ” Children Of the Dark”, the exquisite and painfully close to home ” Elephant’s Memory”, and the slam bang closer ” Lo-Fi”) and miss ( ” Doubt”, ” About Face”, ” True Night”, ” Damaged”) moments.

Season four is highly anticipated. The season three finale had our teams getting into identical black SUVs, and then- BOOM!!!!  What we do get is a hint that there is a terrorist cell attempting to do something ” big”. And that they know the BAU team is there. Season four picks up with our fearless leader Hotch standing, bloodied, his hearing fuzzy, as he stares blankly at a fiery SUV. In shock, he doesn’t even comprehend what has happened, even as a guy stands there asking him repeatedly if he was alright. When it dawns on Hotch that NY FBI head Kate Joiner is seriously injured, bleeding and unable to feel her legs, Hotch moves into fixer mode. When the first responders stop yards away, Kate has to remind him. The profile read that the terrorists’ targets are first responders. No one can come and help till after the area is cleared by the bomb squad.

Meanwhile, the rest of the  team is frantically trying to track each other down and find out if everyone is alright. One by one, Rossi, Reid, Garcia, J.J., Emily, and Morgan are accounted for, but Garcia and Lisa in the CCTV room find the footage of the explosion and the flying bodies of Hotch and Kate. Morgan arrives on scene and Garcia finally gets a call through and tells him that the kid who had been talking to Hotch was the bomber, and Morgan goes after him on foot.

Kate is unconscious and bleeding to death when an ambulance finally comes up to the site, and a lone EMT helps Hotch get her into the ambulance. The ladies finally make it back to Reid and Rossi, and Garcia is finally able to tell them the news.

Morgan chases our man down into the subways, where he confronts him ( yes, the ” show your face, you son of a bitch” dialog going on is cliched, but seriously, what would you say in this situation?) This is a moment that rings utterly true and has been mentioned before, in both real life and in fiction- the bomber points out that our side is afraid to do the one thing that his side is willing to do- die. Then he electrocutes himself on the subway cables.

As the team left in the office tries to figure out what the cell’s next step will be, Hotch drives the ambulance to St. Barclay’s, which is under bypass by the secret Service. Hotch manages to get in due to Kate’s grave condition, and then he collapses at the nurse’s station.

The team is running in circles, and both Hotch and Rossi point out the facts- and that the profile was wrong. The team convenes at the hospital, where they discuss terrorist cells, the motives of the one they are profiling, and the events leading up to that moment. That’s when it hits them- the hospital is the target, and Hotch delivered the bomb in that ambulance. The team is now in motion, and they go off for our bomber. Morgan heads off first, to get to the ambulance before our bomber. He takes the ambulance and burns rubber out of there, the bomber shooting at him fruitlessly. Failed at his mission, surrounded by FBI agents, the bomber slits his own throat after remote detonating the bomb. Morgan has gotten the ambulance to Central Park, where it explodes after he jumps out. After the mayhem, we learn that Kate has died in surgery.

The show ends with Morgan and Hotch, discussing the potential for Morgan to be transferred to the NYC field office. Hotch informs Morgan that he cannot give him the recommendation because Morgan shows signs of being unable to trust anyone, even if his loyalty is to the team. Seeing that Shemar Moore is not leaving the show, it’s safe to say that Morgan doesn’t take the job.

As far as season premieres go, this one is my favorite this season. Leave aside the hot factor of Thomas Gibson, Shemar Moore, and ( in my view, particularly) Matthew Gray Gubler. The performances are strong, the writing good ( despite moments of cliche and a somewhat telegraphed plot, it was still entertaining and a bit of a thrill). The show looked cinematic ( it often does- I’m convinced that this show gets an awful lot of it’s budget on the screen).


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