Friday, September 30, 2005

COMICS: Wed. 9/28/05

And now for something completely different: comic books!

I just need to take a brief break from the TV stuff. It's starting to feel like an actual job, and nobody's paying me. Why won't anybody pay me? Please, somebody pay me so I can quit my day job and just watch and think about TV full-time. That would be swell.

Anyhoo. Comics.

First of all, I notice I declined to mention issue #4 of Dorothy, which came out last week. It's amazing, the best issue yet of a wildly imaginative and unique series. This one was all about the Scarecrow, who tells his disjointed but surprisingly sad life story to Dorothy. He's quite the unreliable narrator; he seems to be unaware he's even talking about himself. (It actually took me a bit to catch on, too; at first, I thought the person we were seeing in the flashbacks was going to turn out to be the Wizard of Oz.) The CGI-enhanced photos work better than ever this issue, delivering some breathtaking and disturbing visuals, and the writing is top notch -- Scarecrow's vocabulary is peppered with Pogo-esque malaprops, and the way he tells his story, almost but not quite realizing that the tragedies he's describing actually happened to him, is heartbreaking. If you haven't been picking up this comic, you owe it to yourself to get the paperback collection of the first four issues, coming soon.

Okay, as for this week's haul:

The Authority: The Magnificent Kevin: Sick and funny, as always. We get a bit of Kev's backstory, and some political maneuvering involving the injured Midnighter. Which is all fine and good, but I just want to see the weird alien creature torture the Authority with cream pies a little more.

Invincible goes in an interesting direction, following the return of Mark's father at the end of last issue. No super battle, but a tearful reconciliation instead. As well as the most disturbing kiss since Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie at the VMAs. (Not between Mark and his father, although that would've been scarcely more disturbing.)

Plastic Man: I love that Kyle Baker has taken his sales-challenged humor comic and introduced an epic-length storyline poking fun at DC's "Big Event" comics, the hell with whether he ever gets to finish it or not. (I don't think the comic is in dire danger of imminent cancellation, but it's still such an audacious undertaking I smile just thinking about it.) Packed with bizarre comedy and a pretty good story to boot.

Defenders: I'm liking this series less as it progresses. I mean, I can play along with the less than serious take on the characters up to a point, but eventually my inner (and outer) nerd rebels. Silver Surfer is putzing around with a bunch of hippie surfers on the beach instead of helping out? Umar has sex with the Hulk?? Dude, that's just wrong. Is Mark Millar writing this? The heroes are unheroic, the villains are way overwritten and tedious... the Giffen/DeMatteis brand has not translated well from DC to Marvel.

Green Lantern Corps: Recharge: I honestly don't know why I bought this. I'm not a huge GL fan, but I have a certain fondness for the various characters who have worn the green ring. Silly me, though, I was expecting this first issue to be at least somewhat accessible to someone who hasn't memorized every minute detail of the last 20 years of Green Lantern continuity. Which was my fault; I should be aware by now that it's against DC policy to cater to anyone but the most rabidly absorbed, continuity obsessed fan.

JLA: Classified: Martian Manhunter has never seemed cooler to me. But why is Lex Luthor still president? Didn't his term in office get cut short in the first storyline of Superman/Batman, like, a year ago? At DC they're sticklers for continuity in everything but the stuff I'm actually aware of!

I also picked up the TPB of Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright. I guess this artist Leinil Francis Yu is supposed to be the next big thing, but I found a big percentage of his panels to be poorly composed, hindering the flow of the story with hard-to-decipher visuals. And that goofy-ass open-mouthed grin he insists on putting on Clark is so obnoxiously off-putting. The story itself starts out promisingly enough -- another retelling of Superman's origin, mostly centering on his first days in Metropolis and his conflict with Luthor. But it just falls into a complete shambles down the stretch; the last four issues or so are a mess. Everything's happening at once and it doesn't hold together; the story seems to contradict itself in places, especially regarding the effect Luthor's kryptonite has on Superman at any given time. And the whole bit where Luthor opens up a wormhole (or whatever it is) to Krypton, and knows more about Superman than Superman does -- that bit of revisionism didn't work for me at all. This was a disappointment.

Wow, this turned into a decent-sized post. I feel refreshed enough to tackle five more new TV shows over the weekend. Let's see if I can do it!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

TV: Thursday 8PM, or, What the Hell?

Seriously: what the hell?

There are certain times on certain nights when more than one show I'd like to watch are on at once. But at 8PM on Thursday, I would at least consider watching, if not actually watch, every single show if they were scheduled more reasonably.

Here's the rundown:

CBS: Survivor
ABC: Alias
NBC: Joey
Fox: The O.C.
WB: Smallville
UPN: Everybody Hates Chris and Love, Inc.

I understand a certain sense of healthy competition between the networks, but... I mean, they're just being dicks about it.

The O.C. would be my last choice. The reason why I never got into it when it first began was because it was up against too many other good shows. That continues in its third season. I found I liked the show when I rented it on DVD a little while back, but there's no way I'm going to make the effort to continue when I see the schedule, and know there's no way I'll ever watch it during the regular season. Why bother?

Joey, NBC's last, desperate stab at "Must See" TV, would be my next choice. It's kind of fun, but it's dumb, and I'm aware it's dumb, so even though I watched it last season, I'm cutting it loose this year.

Survivor would be the next choice. It's one of two reality shows I've ever enjoyed (The Amazing Race being the other). But it's grown old, and I can do without.

My next choices, and my most regrettable exclusions, are Everybody Hates Chris and Love, Inc. Good job with the scheduling, UPN, you dumb fucks. You actually produce two shows I like, and then you put them on death row. I hope you back down before you ruin the only good new thing happening on your channel this year.

That leaves Smallville and Alias, both of which I'm TiVoing. They're both a bit past their prime, I think, but I've got years of history with them, and they're both still very enjoyable. I mean, seriously, you think I'm going to miss the resolutions to last season's cliffhangers for either of those shows? Not bloody likely.

Well done, network honchos, well done indeed. What a mighty clusterfuck you've unleashed on the viewing public! Makes me glad I'm going out to play poker tonight. I think I need an evening away from television. You just make me so angry, TV!

Aw, I'm sorry, baby. You know I don't mean it.

TV: Just Legal

I will say this for Just Legal: it's the best magazine for naked slutty teen crack addicts out there. No, wait, I'm thinking of something with a slightly similar title. Newsweek, maybe.

This show stars Jay Baruchel of the late and much-lamented Undeclared as Doogie Howser, Esq. -- a whiz kid who graduated law school at 18. He caddies for Don Johnson, the seediest D.A. in Southern California, who hires Baruchel on when no other law firm will. Hilarity ensues!

Both actors are appealing, and the show mostly works in its lighter moments. It's when things take a serious turn that the show is out of its depth. Johnson's closing argument to their first case together is so hammy and obvious (could it be he's not just talking about the case -- he's also talking about himself??) that it drags a mildly enjoyable show down to simply irritating.

Just Legal exists on almost exactly the same level as Johnson's previous series, Nash Bridges -- an inoffensive diversion, something that'll keep you amused if you need to kill an hour and everything else is a rerun. I imagine the show might actually improve from its so-so pilot -- certainly the two lead actors have the charisma and humor to elevate things -- but I've got enough on my plate that I don't feel the need to check back in again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

TV: Potpourri

Let's take a break from reviewing new TV pilots to talk about... other TV stuff! I've got a one-track mind. (And I'm going off the rails.)



Why I No Longer Watch "Next On" Promos, Part 1

I hope you people have been watching this second season of Battlestar Galactica, which just ended last Friday with an amazing finale. (Third season's coming in January!) I wondered how they would match last season's powerful ending, which left Commander Adama critically wounded after being shot by Boomer. Well, match it they did, with the discovery of a second surviving Battlestar, the Pegasus, commanded by the coldly dangerous Admiral Cain (Cain... is that foreshadowing of a mutiny?), played by Michelle Forbes.

I loved how Adama at first obediently, even willingly, cedes command of the fleet to her, due to his strict adherence to military chain of command. I loved that when Cain reams Adama out over the flaws and failures of his crew, you want to hate her, but she's dead right on every single count. I loved that they didn't flinch away from the brutalities the crew of the Pegasus has inflicted on their Cylon captive (an almost unrecognizable copy of Number Six), or is willing to inflict on Boomer. And I loved seeing the steel in Adama's countenance as he finally stands up to Cain, sending an attack squadron to rescue the members of his crew that she is about to execute. It was a tremendous episode.

And the thrills were completely unspoiled for me because I've stopped watching the coming attractions promos at the end of each episode. The promos have been giving away far too much, to the point of being true spoilers. In an early episode this season, Col. Tigh decides in the very last minute of the show to declare martial law over the entire fleet. Which would've been a shocker, if they hadn't revealed he was going to do that in the previews from the previous week's show. So, I stopped watching the promos, which meant the appearance of another Battlestar was a complete and wonderful surprise to me. I don't think the moment would have had half as much power if I had known it was coming.



What the hell happened with this week's Arrested Development? They skipped an episode, didn't they? I'm almost positive they skipped an episode. Heck, Roger Green thinks they skipped an episode, too, and this week's was only the second episode he's ever watched. (And by the way, Roger -- I still say Desperate Housewives is not a comedy! Suicide, stalkers, child stealing, statutory rape, murder, dismemberment... just because Teri Hatcher falls down every once in a while doesn't put it in the same genre as Malcolm in the Middle. ABC just thought they'd have a better chance getting Emmys if they nominated it in that category -- because it worked so well for Ally McBeal -- and of course they were right.)

The show started with a "Previously On..." recap, which they've never done before. And then it showed footage that didn't actually happen in last week's show. It was all new, and it skimmed right through a pretty major development, George Bluth's surrender to the law, and subsequent confinement to house arrest in Lucille's apartment, rather than actual prison time. I don't think they even mentioned what happened to poor Oscar. And they skipped the traditional fake "Next Time" previews at the end of the show.

I suspect the woeful ratings of the season debut led the Fox execs to demand, "Skip ahead to Charlize Theron." The lovely Ms. Theron is appearing in six episodes this season, starting with Monday's show. I don't know if she's enough to raise the ratings -- in fact, I'm sure she isn't, since previous guest spots by Heather Graham, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ben Stiller and Martin Short didn't exactly rocket the show up the Nielsens. But I'm glad they're at least trying, even if they had to skip an episode to do it. (Which I don't know for sure if they did or not. But I think they did.)

It still wound up being a pretty hilarious episode. "Wee Britain" had me in stitches. Watch this show before it's too late!



Why I No Longer Watch "Next On" Promos, Part 2

I watched my TiVoed recording of this week's Prison Break before I watched Kitchen Confidential (which actually airs just ahead of Prison Break). It was another goofy joyride on Prison Break, with a full-scale riot breaking out. The episode ends with the lovely Dr. Sara in mortal danger in the hospital ward, with good guy prisoner Michael racing through his escape route to rescue her.

Then I watched Kitchen Confidential, and at the end of the show there was a promo for the Prison Break I had just watched. And it not only spoiled all the action in this week's show -- it spoiled next week's show as well. As I said, the episode actually ends with Dr. Sara in danger and Michael on his way. But the preview shows Michael popping out of the ceiling in the hospital ward and lifting Dr. Sara to safety.

What the FUCK! It's not enough to ruin one episode at a time -- now you're going for a double shot at once?? Geez, why don't you just tell us what happens in the finale and save us all the trouble of watching the whole season?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

TV: Halftime Report Card

I've watched over half of the 30 (!) new shows I plan on watching this year, and I'm about to go watch some more. But I wanted to take a breather and put what I've watched into perspective -- for me, if for no one else.

I've never graded anything on this site -- no letter grade reviews, no scale of 1 to 10, no 4 or 5 stars. But that's what I'm going to be doing here. I'll go with the 1 to 10 scale; I'd use 4 stars, but that system allows for nine possible gradations already (counting zero and half stars). Might as well make it an even ten.

1: Why do you hate me, TV?
2-3: Won't ever watch this again
4-5: Borderline; might give it a second chance
6-7: I'll watch as long as it's not up against something better
8-9: Permanently on my viewing schedule
10: Battlestar Galactica, The Daily Show, Lost, Deadwood

ABC

Invasion: 3

CBS

How I Met Your Mother: 7
Out of Practice: 3
Threshold: 5

Fox

Kitchen Confidential: 7
Prison Break: 6 (as goofy as I thought it was, I keep coming back!)
Bones: 6
Head Cases: 4 (like it matters what I think; it's already been cancelled)
Reunion: 2 (the more I think about it, the worse I realize it is)
Killer Instinct: 1
The War at Home: 3

NBC

My Name Is Earl: 8

UPN

Everybody Hates Chris: 7
Love, Inc.: 6

WB

Just Legal: 5 (I've seen it, but haven't reviewed it yet)
Supernatural: 5
Twins: 2

To summarize: that's ten out of seventeen shows I've basically written off, which is a healthy percentage, I think; six shows I like enough to keep watching until something stops me (with at least two of them, Kitchen Confidential and How I Met Your Mother, and possibly a third, Everybody Hates Chris, threatening to move up to permanent status); and only one real keeper so far, in Earl. Which means, of course, Earl will probably be cancelled. I've got that effect.

It's a mediocre season so far; even Earl isn't completely overwhelming, and there are only a couple shows I truly hold in contempt. I don't expect much better out of the remaining thirteen new programs, but there's always hope. Starting now. To the TV!

TV: Killer Instinct

I just had to make the first tough TiVo choice of the new season, following my vow to watch all of the new pilots. Tonight at 9PM are two hours of shows that I'd normally be watching, My Name Is Earl and The Office on NBC, and House on Fox. Unfortunately, two new shows are debuting during the same hour: Commander in Chief on ABC, and Sex, Love & Secrets on UPN. (Also, CBS has the season premiere of The Amazing Race, but I've already decided I'll be skipping it. For one thing, it's the "Family" edition, which doesn't appeal to me. And for another, it may be the best reality show going, but it's still a reality show, and I'd rather watch good scripted programming than good reality programming. I'm already skipping Survivor, which I also like, due to an overloaded schedule; this may be a 100% reality programming free season for me! And the WB has Supernatural, which I've already decided I don't need to watch again.)

Anyhoo. Doing some investigating on TiVo, I find that Commander in Chief will be repeated on Saturday, so that's one dilemma solved. Also, NBC will be running a mini-Earl marathon two Saturdays from now, so there's another one I can put off. That still leaves three shows at the same time that are not being rerun: House, The Office, and Sex, Love & Secrets. So I've decided to blow off The Office. I'm skipping one of the best half hours on TV, just so I can watch a Denise Richards crapfest on UPN. I hope you people appreciate the magnitude of my sacrifice! It's all for you, folks, it's all for you. (Even the ones who don't care. I'm cool like that.)



At least I know one show I'll never have to watch again. Fox's new crime drama Killer Instinct is easily -- easily -- the worst new show of the year. God DAMN, it is BAD. Johnny Messner is Detective Graham Hale of the San Francisco Police Department's Deviant Crimes Unit. He is unbearably bad, speaking in an unrelenting low, dull monotone, and never once conveying anything remotely close to a human emotion. Marguerite Moreau plays his new partner, Ava Lyford, and she's even worse; she spends most of the episode with a dopey, vacant smile plastered to her face. Chi McBride makes a little effort to create a character out of his Lt. Cavanaugh, but he doesn't have a chance.

I liked seeing the San Francisco locations. The sea lions down at Pier 39, Fishermans Wharf, Lombard St., the streetcars, the Port of San Francisco sign -- I love and miss that city. The rest of this show is completely unbearable. Horrible writing, horrible acting, same old ludicrous "our criminals are freakier than yours" plot (this episode's killer uses spiders to paralyze his victims).

Of slight interest: the end of the episode reveals Lyford has been stalking Hale. That seems like a fairly major story arc they're setting up, right? But next episode, she's gone. Hale's got a new partner, played by Kristin Lehman (whom I liked on Tilt earlier this year). I'm almost curious enough to see how they explain away Hale's old partner to tune in again. Wait, no I'm not. The hell with this show. I sincerely hope this is the worst thing I'll have to see this year... but with Sex, Love & Secrets still to come, I'm not betting on it.

TV: Invasion

Part two of the aquatic-originating alien menace trifecta (along with Threshold and Surface), Invasion suffers from a great many faults, not the least of which is over-familiarity. Already, it seems like every new drama that isn't another police procedural is a "big mystery" type thriller, in the style of (if not a direct ripoff of) Lost, and Invasion doesn't seem to offer anything special to make it worth following.

The actors are decent; I like Eddie Cibrian from Tilt, and William Fichtner is always good as a menacing creep. But the characters aren't very interesting; they're either jerks or blahs. Or stupid. Cibrian is an Everglades park ranger, and a nice blah; Fichtner is the town Sheriff and vaguely jerkish. He's also married to Cibrian's ex, played by Kari Matchett, who is a major jerk. That is, until she gets infected by whatever alien menace lands in the water following a major hurricane; then she becomes a slightly menacing blah. Fichtner is aware that Matchett has been changed by the alien whatevers, and has either orchestrated it, or has been changed himself. That's slightly interesting, but not enough to keep me coming back.

There's a lot of ho-hum family drama getting in the way of the extraterrestrial plot. Cibrian has a new wife, a TV reporter, who is pregnant. Cibrian's got two children from his marriage with Matchett, and Fichtner's got a daughter of his own, and the relationship between them all is strained, primarily due to Matchett's jerkishness. During the hurricane, Matchett comes over to Cibrian's house to interfere with everybody, and her oldest son yells at her to leave. Which she does. In the middle of a hurricane. They're both jerks, and they're both stupid. Then there's Dave, Cibrian's new brother-in-law, the stupid conspiracy theorist who, when strange stuff starts happening, it turns out might not be so stupid after all. He's almost an interesting character, but he starts off the episode wanting to abandon Cibrian's kids during the hurricane to go pick up some more beer, so he's just another jerk. And Cibrian's young daughter actually wanders off during the hurricane to look for her missing cat; she's not a jerk, but she is stupid.

I don't like any of these people, and I don't care what happens to them. The pilot had a nice look to it; the hurricane action sequences were well-filmed by director Thomas Schlamme. But there was nothing here to make me want to check out a second episode. I was hoping for something on the level of the smart and creepy American Gothic, a previous series from Invasion's creator, Shaun Cassidy. Instead, it's just dumb and dull.

TV: Everybody Hates Chris

Everybody Hates Chris is a good example of critical oversell. This is the show, along with My Name Is Earl, that was touted pre-season as the rejuvenation of the sitcom genre. This is the show that would take UPN one step closer to being a legitimate network with must-see shows. As it turns out, I thought Earl was almost as good as the critics said. But Chris, while very good, and certainly a quantum leap forward for sitcoms on UPN, didn't quite meet expectations.

First of all, let me get this out of the way: that title is dumb. A play on another sitcom's title is bad enough when that show just ended its run last season; in five years time (should Chris be so lucky), the choice of title will haunt them. "Why oh why didn't we come up with an original, worthwhile name??" Ah, maybe it's just me.

Anyway, the actual show is smart, sweet, well written, well shot (without that cheap UPN look to it), and well acted. It feels original while still evoking a number of classic comedies, from Good Times to The Wonder Years to Malcolm in the Middle. Objectively, it's a great success. My only problem with it is that it didn't really make me laugh very much. In fact, I got more laughs from Love, Inc. than Chris.

That's not to say it's not funny. It's just not as funny as I wanted it to be, which is perhaps an unfair standard. Oh well.

The show's star, Tyler James Williams, playing a young Chris Rock, has been spotlighted as one of the breakout performers of the new season. He's very good for a child actor, but he's not quite where he needs to be yet. He's strong in spots, especially when his character is being strong; he's weakest, oddly enough, when his character is at his weakest -- fearful or insecure. He relies a little too much on big, bug-eyed reactions that feel forced -- in that way, he reminds me of the kid who plays Ron in the Harry Potter movies. I think Williams has plenty of potential, but as of the pilot episode, he's still a little shaky.

Chris' parents, who have moved the family from the projects to the supposedly higher class Bed-Stuy neighborhood (which is just about to be hit with the crack epidemic), are played by Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold, and they're a wonderful TV couple. Crews, as father Julius, starts out as seemingly cruel and petty (counting the exact cost, down to the penny, of every single bit of wasted food -- which is funny the first time, but feels way overused by the end of the episode), and Arnold as mother Rochelle seems uncaring and shrewish. When the two of them clash over how bills should be paid, I thought the show was planning on making them an unlikeable pair, just two more people to hate Chris. But by show's end, they've revealed themselves to be deeply caring and loving. Sure, the kids live in fear of waking dad from his daytime sleep -- but it's only because dad has to work two graveyard shift jobs. When Chris comes in to wake his dad, it's a very sweet and revealing moment. "It's 5:00," Chris says. "It's not 4:59?" his father asks in a warning tone. Then he asks, wearily, "Which job am I going to?" and you can't help but feel for the man. The parents' reconciliation over the bills-paying argument is just as touching, with Rochelle explaining that certain bills have to be unpaid if they want to keep any money for themselves, and Julius' heart filling with love for the strong woman who takes care of him.

Very sweet, but, as I said, not necessarily very funny.

When his parents arrange to have Chris bused to a nicer, all-white school than the local one (from which he can hear shots ring out as the bus passes by), I began to wonder if I was feeling a bit of a disconnect from the material. There are still plenty of funny and relatable moments, as Chris finds himself the target of bullying by some of his new schoolmates. The scene in which "Ebony and Ivory" blares while Chris gets his ass beaten by the bully is a hysterically wonderful use of music. But there are certain things that I didn't buy, that rang false to me, which may only be due to my particular perspective. For example, during the fight with the bully, a white cop walks by, and not only decides not to stop the fight, but even seems to approve of the white kid beating the black kid -- that seemed absurd to me, like the show was stacking the deck with a truly unrealistic moment. But maybe that's simply naivete on my part; for all I know, that could be an actual detail from Chris Rock's childhood. Same thing with the bus driver who tries to ditch Chris as he's running from the bullies, even going so far as to shut the door on his hand and start driving. Would any bus driver really do that to a kid? No, seriously, I'm asking: would they? It seems far too over-the-top hateful and phony to be funny, but maybe I'm simply out of my element.

I had a bit of a problem with the flow of the show as well. We keep cutting away from Chris to spend brief moments with the parents that aren't especially interesting, funny, or necessary. Maybe the actors just wanted more screentime. But it makes the main story feel disjointed at times.

It's a small complaint. I think most of my problems with the show are small, save for the disconnect to the material I mentioned. Maybe I'm analyzing certain racially charged moments a little too much; maybe I need to ignore them and just laugh. But it's hard to ignore the racial implications when so much of the show's humor is directly dependent on them, when so much of the writing seems to say, "Aren't white people just awful?"

Am I being unfair? Are they? I see enough quality in the show, and I got enough unqualified laughter from it, that I'll keep tuning in -- because it's a good show, sure, but also because I'm curious to find out if either question has some truth to it. Or neither.

Monday, September 26, 2005

TV: Out of Practice

I'll try to make this one short and to the point: Out of Practice is bad, and I feel sorry for the talented people in the cast who are stuck with it: Henry Winkler, who seems to be making a genuine effort, but who really needs to spend more time on Arrested Development instead; Stockard Channing, who seems to be phoning it in while waiting for her next West Wing appearance; and Paula Marshall, whom I love, but who is simply miscast. Jennifer Tilly even makes an uncredited cameo, and as cute as she is, if this is her only acting offer, she really should just stick with poker. (And by the way, can you believe she's 46??)

But I fear it's bad in the way Yes, Dear or According to Jim are bad: shows that you and everyone you know hate, shows talk show hosts use in their monologues when they need a bad TV show as a punchline -- but which somehow stay on the air for seven years.

I sincerely hope not. It's just bad. Bad writing, bad acting, bad characters -- everyone is unlikeable. And bad casting. I mentioned Marshall, but here's a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman on another cast member:

Marshall as a lesbian is about as believable as Ty Burrell, who plays her brother the plastic surgeon, as straight. His character is clearly gay yet saddled with talking about women's breasts and how any woman who doesn't sleep with him must be lesbian.

Believable? Not this far west.
Meow! What a bitch! But he's also dead right.

Do yourself a favor and skip this show.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

TV: Love, Inc.

Look, I'm every bit as surprised as you're going to be, so I'll just come right out and say it: I liked Love, Inc., the new sitcom on UPN.

I know! It doesn't make sense! A sitcom on UPN actually made me laugh! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!! And yet, here we are.

The premise couldn't be any hokier: two dating service experts who can find the right match for everyone but themselves. It's Miss Match all over again. But somehow, the sharp writing and (for the most part) the acting transcends the tired set-up and creates laughs from the quirky employees and the rituals of dating.

There are a lot of good lines and good moments peppered throughout. In the opening scene, we meet dating consultant Denise as she teaches a client how to make a good impression on a first date. One strong piece of advice: "Your favorite movie is no longer Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo*." He protests, "But it works on multiple levels!" Denise is played by Busy Philipps, replacing Shannen Doherty, who was fired before the pilot aired. I can only assume they made the right choice. Philipps is certainly attractive enough, in a square-jawed, orange-skinned way, but it's her personality that really carries the show. She's quick and strong and clever and insecure and playful -- she makes the most out of the material.

The owner of the company is Clea, played by Holly Robinson Peete, and I liked her more here than I remember liking her from the few times I watched Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. She's not tremendously funny in the first episode, but she clearly can handle the humor when she gets her moments. Plus she's got an adorable little snort-laugh. Clea, like Denise, is currently unlucky in love -- she's going through a divorce.

Reagan Gomez-Preston plays Francine, the company's fashion expert. When we meet her, she's divesting a client of his unattractive accoutrements (calculator watch, fanny pack, flip-up sunglasses). Just then, his cell phone rings, playing the full orchestral theme from Star Trek. "Aw, hell no!" she exclaims. (It's funnier on film than I make it sound, trust me.)

The there's Barry, the company media expert (I'm guessing), played by Vince Vieluf, whose last name looks like a typo. Barry is a funny character, but Vieluf plays him a little too laid back at times. But he's got a few nice lines. At one point, he demands to know, "Why do they always have movie stars on the cover of TV Guide? They're not on TV!" (Oh, I've asked that question many a time myself!) Later at a club, he tells the bartender, "I'd like a drink that looks like it's from the future."

The show's got its share of missteps. The Latina receptionist looking for a man to marry to get her green card -- that's one. The guy playing Denise's ex-boyfriend Brad is another; he's played by Zachary Knighton, previously of Life on a Stick, and he's every bit as awful here as he was there. But the biggest strike going against Love, Inc., as unfair as it may be, is that it's on UPN. First of all, it has that UPN look to it -- very obviously filmed on the cheap, with all the colors way too unnaturally bright. And it's got the UPN history to go with it: I have never liked a UPN sitcom, and I don't think I'm alone in that. UPN's shows in general are pretty bad, but their sitcoms are legendarily shitty. You disagree? Well, may I remind you of a little show called Shasta McNasty? Or perhaps Homeboys in Outer Space? How about The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer? I rest my case.

It would be a shame if (by which I mean when) that keeps a larger audience from finding this show. It's a very traditional sitcom, but hard as it may be to credit it -- it's a successful one. Funny jokes and appealing actors, that's all it needs and that's exactly what it has. I hope I remember to tune in again; after all, it is UPN, and the only show they've currently got that makes me actually remember UPN exists is Veronica Mars. It's entirely possible Love, Inc. will make that two shows.



*You know, it just occurred to me, the term "male gigolo" is redundant. Gigolos can only be male. I don't exactly feel proud that it took me six years to realize that.

Friday, September 23, 2005

BOOKS: Banned Books Week

After 14 straight posts about TV, it's time for a change-up. And Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag's Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog reminds me that tomorrow is the beginning of Banned Books Week.

Censorship is my one true political hot topic. This country is taking great, frightening strides backward in all areas of personal freedom, including artistic expression. I resent and reject other people telling me what I'm not allowed to see or hear. I'm an adult. I can decide for myself, thank you. I can close the book or change the channel all by myself if I need to. Too bad there are so many jackasses out there who don't trust anybody's standards but their own.

Anyhoo. Go read a banned or challenged (that's an attempted banning) book this week. There are plenty to choose from. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Of Mice and Men. The Adventures of Captain Underpants, for crying out loud. Or one of my favorites, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Speaking of which, I'll leave with a quote (provided by Laura) from good ol' Mark Twain himself, which sums up the mentality of a lot of would-be censors pretty darn well:

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."

TV: Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential is just quirky enough to resemble certain other Fox comedies -- a single camera show with narration, like Arrested Development or Malcolm in the Middle -- but it doesn't quite hit the heights of brilliance those two shows did right from the start. That said, it's still very good. It's got a talented cast, it's got an excellent, TV-ready premise and setting (disgraced superstar chef attempts to redeem himself at new restaurant), and it's got a fair share of big laughs.

Bradley Cooper (previously of Alias) is Jack Bourdain, the genius chef who ruins his career with his various addictions. I've always thought of him as a supporting player, and honestly didn't think he could carry a show as the lead, but he eventually convinced me in the debut episode. I think he won me over in the scene where he menaces his new waitstaff while cradling a giant sea bass in one hand. His flare of anger and passion was unexpected and effective.

He's supported by a motley crew, including (just like How I Met Your Mother) an alumnus of both Buffy and Freaks and Geeks, Nicholas Brendon and John Francis Daley, respectively. Brendon is the seasoned pro pastry chef, and Daley is the newbie who is hazed by the rest of Jack's crew. Both are funny, with Daley edging out Brendon. Owain Yeoman as Steven Daedelus, "kitchen magician and master thief" (according to the subtitles that introduce each of Jack's staff), looks to be the real breakout here, a thug seemingly taken straight out of a Guy Ritchie film and transplanted into the world of fine cuisine. The sequence in which he loses a fingertip to a cleaver, and casually uses the resulting blood flow like a squirt gun, is sick and hilarious.

Frank Langella also makes a surprise appearance as Pino, the owner of Jack's new restaurant. And John Cho, who never fails to make me laugh, is seafood expert Teddy, but it looks like he's only in this pilot episode, which is a shame.

The chaos of a busy restaurant is presented well here, and the laughs when things don't turn out as expected are frequent. But the show still looks to be finding its feet. The cast is a bit too large (some, like Cho and Langella, probably won't be appearing in every episode, if ever again), and there was a bit too much of a "kitchen sink" attitude here -- Brendon starting up a poker game in the kitchen is an example -- but I liked it as it was, and I only expect it to improve. This is another of my favorites from the new season, up there with My Name Is Earl. It may even surpass Earl in weeks to come, purely on the superior strength of its supporting cast.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

TV: How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother throws in a few non-standard gimmicks, like staging the show as a flashback from the future (2030, to be specific, where an unseen Bob Saget tells his two kids the story of... well, see the title), and some split-screen action, but mostly it's an extremely conventional, sitcommy kind of sitcom. Ted (the younger version of Saget), played by the unknown-to-me Josh Radnor, is depressed that his best friends and roommates Marshall and Lily (Freaks & Geeks' Jason Segel and Buffy's Alyson Hannigan) are getting married. Ted wants to settle down, too, despite the adverse influence of immature, womanizing friend Barney (Neil Patrick Harris... yay, Doogie!). Then Ted spies Robin (the also unfamiliar Cobie Smulders) and is instantly smitten. And off we go!

For all its conventional trappings, there is some spark to be found here. Radnor is kind of blah, but passable as a lead. Harris is a lot of fun, as full of energy and enthusiasm as he is bad advice and cheap come-ons. Smulders is tremendously lovely and winning. And Segel is enjoyably goofy and awkward. The real letdown here is Hannigan. As nerd-crush extraordinaire Willow, she was perfect, but since then.... I started realizing it during her guest appearances on Veronica Mars last year, and confirmed it here: she's actually not a very good actress. Frankly, she's kind of bad. Which is disillusioning. I went through the same sort of realization with former nerd-crush Winona Ryder a few years ago. Once Ryder and Hannigan tried to break out of their nerd-crush phases, their limitations became painfully obvious. Too bad, so sad.

The writing isn't brilliant, but it's got its moments. I liked that Ted wins Robin over by allowing her to throw a drink in his face (in order to impress her girlfriends, one of whom was just dumped). I liked Barney's Lazer Tag excursion, and his insistence that Ted "Suit up!!" And Marshall's fear of opening a champagne bottle, while again very sitcommy, still produced laughs, as did Lily's subsequent eyepatch (he hits her in the eye with the cork). Other bits were a little too Friends-type sitcom-influenced, like the "olive theory," or Ted's referring to a framed blue French horn artpiece as a "Smurf penis." But the good here outweighs the bad.

And I really liked and was genuinely surprised by the twist at the end: after a half hour setting up the romance between Ted and Robin, future Ted concludes the episode by telling his kids, "And that's the story of how I met... your Aunt Robin." What? the kids demand. What about meeting their mother? "I told you this was going to be a long story," he says. I got a kick out of that. It was a small thing, but it hooked me, and left me wanting to find out more.

TV: Threshold

Despite liking most of the actors in Threshold -- and it truly is a fine cast, with Carla Gugino, Brent Spiner, Peter Dinklage, and Charles S. Dutton -- I wasn't expecting to like the show. It's just another science fiction-y, "big mystery" show trying to ride the coattails of Lost, I thought, and there certainly appears to be no shortage of that kind of thing this season, including this CBS entry, NBC's Surface, and ABC's Invasion.

But then the advance reviews started coming in, and they were mostly glowing. So I began to think that maybe they had gotten it right. I began thinking that they had actually created a show smart and thrilling enough to be worthy of these actors. I got my hopes up.

My mistake.

It's not awful. But neither is it as good as the advance word. It fits squarely into this season's overall theme of determined mediocrity.

Gugino plays Dr. Molly Caffrey, "a government contingency analyst whose job is to devise response plans for worst-case scenarios" (according to the CBS website). Her contingency plan code-named "Threshold" is activated when contact is made with an alien lifeform -- apparently a hostile one. Deputy National Security Advisor Roc comes to tell her she needs to put her plan into action: "You just became the most important person on the planet," he says. What a drama queen.

She assembles her team, including microbiologist Spiner, linguistics expert Dinklage, and physicist Rob Benedict (whom I remember as the guy getting killed by zombies on Alias last season). Together with "freelance" agent Cavennaugh, played by some guy I've never heard of, they fly out to the naval vessel that made contact with the E.T., and find most of the crew missing or dead, except for Tom Cruise's cousin, who is even creepier here as Gunneson than he was last year on Lost as Ethan. Turns out he's been altered by the aliens, and now is super-strong and nearly invulnerable. Hilarity ensues!

There are a lot of things the show does right. The alien threat, as represented by Gunneson and the other infected crewmen, is frightening and mysterious. The actual alien (or alien craft), seen mostly via a crewman's videotape, is unique and interesting, a hovering ball of fractals constantly expanding and folding in on itself. And the fact that three of Gugino's team, including herself, may be partially infected by the alien as well, is a clever twist, strengthening the connection between her and the E.T. and giving her certain insights into its purpose (including a dream of a forest made of glass, a dream shared by all three of her alien-infected teammates).

But a lot else doesn't work for me. The scientists make a lot of ridiculous leaps of logic, it seems to me (even if all of those leaps are conveniently correct, as required by the script). The physicist instantly jumps to the conclusion that the alien craft inhabits four dimensions (or more), and the linguistics expert takes a fractal image burned into the ship's computer monitors and determines that the aliens have triple-helix DNA (one better than our measly double-helix). Both of those ideas are interesting, but the steps taken to reach them seem shaky at best. There's something to be said for plowing ahead like this in order to keep the plot in motion, but there just seems to be a lot of shoddy science going on here.

And the human characters aren't very interesting or well-defined. Gugino is a lot less effective here than in the late great Karen Sisco from a couple seasons back. Plus, she's got a mysterious past! Why does she create worst-case survival scenarios? Because she's already lived through one, she tells us. Also, her father is missing. There's too much attention given to future character reveals, and not enough spent on making the character interesting now. Giving her a dog, and a fridge full of food containers with neatly-typed labels on them, isn't quite enough.

Cavennaugh is even more mysterious than Gugino, but he's otherwise a blank. Spiner is kind of cynical, and that's about all I get from that character. Benedict is neurotic. Dutton is stern and concerned. Dinklage's character is the most compelling so far, because he reaches the greatest extremes in two directions -- he's the sleaziest of the bunch, with a weakness for "gambling, booze, and strippers" (as Dutton helpfully informs Gugino during the recruiting process) and a penchant for directing lecherous come-ons to Gugino and dismissive put-downs to the rest of the team, but he's also allowed to be the most vulnerable, first as the subject of threats and bullying from Cavennaugh when he tries to leave the team, and later stricken with fear during an assault by one of the alien infectees.

And the action scenes, while mostly effective, have a tendency to blatantly telegraph their surprises. Gugino is home alone, and when she opens her refrigerator door, she's squeezed way over to the edge of the screen, and the door obscures everything else. A lifetime of watching horror movies tells me that when she closes that door, someone is going to be standing behind it. Later, Benedict has a dream that he's attacked. He wakes up, and has a "Whew, only a dream" moment -- but hey, he's off to the side of the screen, with the car window taking up the rest of the shot. Something's coming through that window!

The show has potential, I'll give it that. I think the strength of the cast will allow them to create real characters out of the sketches presented to us in these first two episodes. And I think the aliens have promise as well, especially if they bring back Gunneson (who is shot and removed to custody at the end of the premiere), or continue to cast actors as strong as him as the infected humans. As to whether I stick around to see them achieve that potential (or fail to achieve it), I've already got an absurdly full TV-watching schedule. It's questionable at best.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

TV: My Name Is Earl

It's not quite the rebirth of the sitcom, as a lot of critics have been saying, but My Name Is Earl is still the best new show I've seen so far this season.

Petty criminal and all-around scuzz-bucket Earl wins $100,000 in the lottery, and is instantly hit by a car and loses the ticket. While in the hospital, doped up on morphine, his slutty wife Joy (Jaime Pressly) tricks him into signing divorce papers and signing over the deed to the trailer, so she can get married to the real father of Earl, Jr. (Her cunning trickery consists of putting the papers in front of him and saying, "Sign next to the little yellow sticky things." "Okey-dokey!" says Earl.) When Carson Daly introduces Earl to the concept of karma, Earl decides to make a list of every wrong he's ever done, and make amends for each one. (My favorite transgression of the ones mentioned is "peed in the back of a police car." "I'm no longer proud of that," says Earl -- my favorite line of the episode.) As Earl begins his good deeds, he is rewarded with the return of the lottery ticket on a gust of wind. (He cashes the ticket, and then stores the money in the glove box of his junker of a car.)

The heart of the show, and the only reason why it works, is Jason Lee as Earl. He's perfect both as the dedicated lowlife he starts out as, and the flawed philanthropist he becomes. Even as pathetic and ugly as they make him look, Lee is still filled with charisma, and carries the show easily.

The rest of the cast is lacking, at best. Ethan Suplee is Earl's lump of a brother (or half-brother, I forget), who's always sleeping on Earl's couch. He's the best of the lot, but he's still not especially interesting or funny. Jaime Pressly is easy on the eyes, no question, but her character is a little too awful and shrill to be humorous. And Nadine Velazquez is the maid Catalina, who works at the motel where the brothers crash after Joy dumps Earl. She makes almost no impression whatsoever. I don't think they even tried to make her funny; she just exists to be the attractive woman who comes between the brothers.

I don't know if they tried to make any of the other characters funny, really. The show's creators know that everything hinges on Lee, and they wisely keep everything focused on him.

The show's premise is clever and sound, and should provide enough comic fodder to keep things fresh for a long while. And Lee is almost certainly on his way to becoming the next big thing on television. I've found the first new show of the Fall season that I can gladly add to my permanent viewing schedule.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

TV: Hawkgirls Are Easy

I'm watching the first two episodes of the new season of Justice League Unlimited, which aired last Saturday. Good stuff so far -- I love the new Legion of Doom. But in the second episode, I just heard something I can't believe.

Hawkgirl is on a mission to Egypt with studly archeologist Carter Hall. As she stands in front of him, he stares at her ass (which is animated with loving care). "What?" she asks.

"I miss the dress," he says, referring to the hot little number she'd worn on her first date with him the day before.

"You didn't miss it last night," she replies.

BOMP CHICKA BOW BOW!!

Damn! Hawkgirl sexed him up!! Well done, JLU, well done.

TV: Twins

The WB's new sitcom Twins is, not unexpectedly, very bad. I'd say it's tied right now with The War at Home as the worst show of the new season that I've seen so far. They're not that awful: neither show is bad in offensively, creatively, painfully, memorably original ways (like, say, Committed was). They're simply bad because they're not good, if you see what I mean.

Twins stars Melanie Griffith and Mark Linn-Baker as a comically mismatched couple -- Mark's smart and dumpy! Melanie's hot and dopey! They own a lingerie design business, and are about to pass the reins of the company over to their twin daughters, the comically mismatched Sara Gilbert and Molly Stanton -- Sara's smart and dumpy! Molly's hot and dopey! Hilarity fails to ensue.

Even though I knew I wouldn't like this show, I kind of wanted to. I remember Mark Linn-Baker fondly from Perfect Strangers, and Sara Gilbert of course was great on Roseanne. But here, as the smart, dumpy ones, they're left to flounder. Their hot counterparts don't do anything to help; Stanton is simply terrible, and Griffith, while she's come back a bit from the pill-popping, smeary-faced nadir she'd hit in recent years, still seems a little out of it, above and beyond the parameters of her character. And the writing is so lifeless, the word "Buttpucker" (a new style of underwear) is used as a punchline about 87 times. Because it's such a funny word!!! BUTTPUCKER!!! LAUGH, DAMN YOU!!!

There was one single moment, one line of dialogue, that made me laugh and wish the rest of the show would rise at least to that level. The new cute guy in the office has made a joke. Gilbert responds with a blank face, and says, "I'm not really a laugher, but I just want you to know I think that's funny." I thought that was tremendously clever, and a winning character moment, and Gilbert is exactly the kind of deadpan actress who can pull off a line like that perfectly. But she doesn't get another good line for the rest of the show, and probably won't for the rest of the series, either (which hopefully won't be very much longer).

Tom stops pretending that he's given up on the Emmys -- Part the Last

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.

Phil Keoghan and Jeff Probst present the coolest "Emmy Idol" tune of the night. The Shat intones his legendary spiel from Star Trek, and then some woman (a mezzo-soprano, according to Phil, and I'm going to have to take his word on that) sings the instrumental. Sings the instrumental! Bizarre. [EDIT: I had always thought that was an electronic instrument of some sort in the original theme song, but someone tells me that it's actually a vocal track. Whatever.]

Mariska Hargitay comes out to present the Best Miniseries award, and say what you will about Patricia Arquette, it's still better than Mariska winning. For Christ's sake, if you can't find a better actress than her to nominate, then you just ain't looking that hard.

Speaking of Patricia: with the Best Actress in a Drama award not yet presented, the local CBS station teases its 11:00 news show with a shot of Patricia Arquette holding her Emmy. I already knew she'd win, but on behalf of everyone who watched it live, who did not know: thanks a pantsload, CBS! Dumbasses.

There's a long bit celebrating the holy triumvirate of news anchors: Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather. It's nice, but I'm getting burnt out, here. Let's get to the big awards, so I can start getting really mad!

"Every young girl dreams of winning an Emmy, and I was no exception." Conan O'Brien needs to host the Oscars.

He presents Best Actress in a Comedy, which of course goes to Felicity Huffman for Desperate Housewives (not a comedy!!). But I like her, so I'll let it slide. Actually, of the major awards, this was the most deserving win. She's just great. Even if she's not in a comedy!! Maybe if I pretend real hard, I can imagine she's winning for Sports Night instead. Hey, she even thanks Aaron Sorkin! And she describes her husband as "the incomparable William H. Macy." What an odd way to put it.

James Spader almost puts me to sleep from the other room with his dull monotone. And here it is, he's presenting Best Actress in a Drama. Oh, man, I can't watch. I can't watch!

I watched. God damn it, what is wrong with you people? I don't even really like Six Feet Under, but at least I know Frances Conroy is ten times more deserving than Arquette. And hello, any of you ever heard of Glenn frickin' Close?? This is a ridiculous glitch. This is just wrong, this is so very very wrong. I can't even listen to her give her speech. Fast forward!

Uh-oh! It's time for the Parade of the Dead! Clap for your favorites! Anne Bancroft takes an early lead, followed by Ossie Davis. Rodney Dangerfield makes a strong showing, but James Doohan pushes ahead by a nose. And here comes Bob Denver on the outside! Down the stretch it's Christopher Reeve by a length, followed by Bob Denver, and at the wire -- it's Jerry Orbach! Jerry Orbach is this year's most popular dead celebrity (TV category)!! As always, thank you for that classy moment, Emmys.

Sela Ward and Craig Ferguson, of all people, present the award for Best Actor in a Comedy. Tony Shalhoub wins. Have any of the voters even watched Monk since the first season? It's just terrible now. This is another major screw-up. Jason Bateman should've taken this, or at least Zach Braff. Shalhoub is just wrong.

Not as wrong as what comes next. Charles S. Dutton comes out to present the biggest fucking mistake of the night. It's not his fault, though. I forgive him. James Spader wins for Best Actor in a Drama. I can't even muster the anger required to respond to that. Seriously, I feel the burn, but I can't focus it into words. Here is what I want to write: IAN MCSHANE!!! IAN FUCKING MCSHANE YOU FUCKING IDIOTS!!! And that's just not very constructive, is it? It's not even angry in a funny way. It's just such a blatantly obvious choice that needs to be made here, and they miss it so completely. Hell, even Hugh Laurie for House -- that would've been less than ideal, but it would've been understandable. But James Spader? Over Al fucking Swearengen? No. Just -- no.

Ellen Degeneres returns -- oh yeah, she's hosting this show, isn't she? She's mostly been going through a series of incredibly lame gags involving the guy who monitors how long the show is running over. She's been kind of a non-entity for this thing, which is too bad. She can be so funny, but she just let herself get steered into very unfunny behind-the-scenes skits, instead of just telling jokes onstage like she should have. Oh, and this "Emmy Idol" thing (Donald Trump wins, by the way). Better luck next time, Ellen. If there is one.

Oh, goddam it! Here comes Whoopi. HATRED. She's with Hugh Jackman to present Best Drama. She's so awful! (Have I mentioned that?) She is the extremely dangerous and volatile opposite of comedy. She is anti-comedy. If comedy and Whoopi Goldberg were ever to touch, the resulting explosion would destroy the greater Los Angeles area.

Lost wins. If Deadwood has to lose, at least it loses to another of my favorite shows. I love Lost, it's fantastic. But Deadwood is so far beyond it, it's like... two other things of uneven quality. I can't think of an appropriate metaphor right now. I'm tired!

And at long last, the final award: Best Comedy goes to Everybody Loves Raymond. It's the sentimental award, which is always the worst reason to give an award -- if it was that good to begin with, you would've given it an Emmy before it went off the air! -- and it takes away the honor from the much more deserving Arrested Development or Scrubs. [EDIT: I had assumed Raymond had not won for Best Comedy before, but it actually won in 2003. Also, Ray Romano won for Best Actor in 2002. Ray Romano?? He's the center of the show, but come on, he is not the best actor of any year. Hell, he's barely an actor, period.] But at least it upset Desperate Housewives, which was favored to win. And which -- have I mentioned? -- is not a comedy!!

My TiVo cuts the show off before they can make their acceptance speech, which is a small mercy. Well, this was one of the very worst non-MTV-affiliated awards shows I've ever seen, both in quality of execution and in the recipients of the awards. And yet, I hung on every minute. (Almost.) I'm a weak man. And I'll be back next year!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tom gives up on the Emmys -- Part 3

Part 1.
Part 2.

That was an incredibly classy and touching tribute to Johnny Carson. But as others have mentioned: how interesting that it was David Letterman that presented it, not Jay Leno (who was indeed in the audience). Interesting, but not surprising. After all, whose show did Carson make an appearance on after his retirement, Dave's or Jay's? (Dave's, for those of you to whom that was not a rhetorical question.)

Okay, as tired as I am of Brad Garrett, that was funny. Speaking for the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray Romano says they no longer have to be funny, since they don't have a show to promote. "Well, we should try to be a little funny, because there may be a spin-off," Brad says, casually raising his Emmy.

Then they give another Emmy to Jon Stewart, so that's cool, too.

Then another damn "Emmy Idol" thing. The theme from The Jeffersons this time. Man, I can't stand Macy Gray. And some dude from CSI is singing with her? What the?

Patricia Arquette comes out to present other presenters -- the winners of Guest Actor and Actress in a Drama. Ah, if only this were her only appearance at the Emmys this year. (Foreshadowing!) Ray Liotta won the Guest Actor Emmy, so he presents Best Directing for a Drama. There are seven nominees. Wait, they can nominate seven people for Director, but they can't figure out a way to get Michael Chiklis a nomination for Best Actor? Or John C. McGinley for Best Supporting Actor? Why not more than five in the acting categories too, dammit! Ah, whatever. J.J. Abrams wins for Lost, which is not as good as Deadwood winning, but not as bad as anything else winning. (This theme will recur.)

Now here's Best Writing in a Drama. House wins? Huh. Actually, I remember the nominated episode, and it was truly stellar. Still, I'm surprised it beat Lost. And wait -- Deadwood wasn't even nominated? Cocksuckers!

Halle Berry presents Best Actor in a Miniseries, and there's a long, awkward silence between when she says, "Here are the nominees," and when she starts reading their names. Either there was a technical glitch with the film clip listing the nominees, or she just forgot what she was supposed to be doing.

There's been a woman in a green dress that they've kept showing in the audience, and I've been wondering all night who it was. Conveniently, she presents the awards for Directing and Writing for a Miniseries -- it's Ellen Pompeo from Grey's Anatomy. Hmm. I've never watched that show. I might now.

Geena Davis and Matthew Fox present Best Actress in a Miniseries. Geena mispronounces S. Epatha Merkerson's name. Dude, you had five names to memorize. Was that really so hard?

Oh, she's the one who lost her thank you notes down the bodice of her dress. Oh, that's so embarrassing. She's so adorably flustered by it. But she keeps going! That moment is going to be replayed for years.

Then we get to the bit I've been waiting for, Jon Stewart's taped message regarding the government response to Katrina. It is awesome. "Can't hear it? Let me turn it up for you!"

Desperate Housewives wins for Directing in a Comedy, Arrested Development wins for Best Writing in a Comedy. One of these shows is not a comedy. Can you guess which one? Ah, very nice, Mitch Hurwitz points out that "this is the second time the Academy has awarded us for a show that you people won't watch." Hopefully that changed tonight. You all watched the season premiere earlier tonight, didn't you? You better. Or I will shake my fist at you!

Now Quentin Tarantino comes out to present with the smokin' hot Marg Helgenberger, and it just makes me sad that a goofy, hyper, boxy-headed freak like him gets to hang out with someone like her. Time for the last break of the evening!

Part the Last.

Tom gives up on the Emmys -- Part 2

Part 1.

The highlights are few and far between. The Blue Man Group? That's just weird. They're kind of entertaining in a used-to-be-hip way, but it's just odd. Now, if David Cross had been up there with them, that would've been comedy genius. And... Amazing Race wins Best Reality Show, or whatever this category is called. I'm a little burned out on the show, but there's no question it's still the best of a wretched lot, so that's a nice win there. In fact, that may be the last award to go to the most deserving nominee for the rest of the night.

Hey, it's Zach Braff and Hugh Laurie! I like both of them. What a pleasant surprise. Funny bit with Hugh dropping the American accent, and Zach doing an awful British accent to match him. "Try and upstage me." Then Blythe Danner wins for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. Oh, brother. Now, I've got no problem with Blythe Danner, nor with Huff -- in fact, I've never seen Huff. Actually, that's the problem: how the fuck does she win for a Showtime series nobody I know has ever seen, when HBO can't manage an acting win for Deadwood or Six Feet Under or Entourage?? (My bitterness is aided and abetted by knowing the results in advance.) Showtime knows who to bribe, apparently. Also, like I said, I've never seen Huff, and I'm sure Blythe Danner is excellent. But CCH Pounder got robbed.

Oh, Hugh Jackman won for something earlier that I don't really care about. But whatever it was, at least he kept fellow nominee Whoopi Goldberg from winning. God, she's awful. Awful!

Jason Lee and Debra Messing present some award for some miniseries or something, who cares. But damn, with that mustache and his hair slicked back, Jason looks like he should be in the cast of Deadwood! That I'd like to see. Then Lauren Graham and Jennifer Love Hewitt come out to present some other minseries award I could give a rat's ass about. But that doesn't matter: it's Lauren Graham! Oh, how I love Lauren Graham. Possibly in ways and at levels which, if not explicitly illegal, at the very least surely have me on some kind of a government watch list. Also, as astoundingly stupid as her Ghost Whisperer show promises to be (it is, you may recall, the one new non-reality show of the year that I am refusing to watch -- for reasons of principle, believe it or not!), she sure is easy on the eyes.

Speaking of which, here comes Alyson Hannigan. Is she still married? She is? Aw, shucks! (As if that affects my chances with her one iota.) Sadly, she's introducing another "Emmy Idol" segment: Kristin Bell performing the theme to Fame.

Pop quiz: I think Kristin Bell is

A) the cat's pajamas
B) the cat's meow
C) the cat's whiskers
D) all of the above

Pencils down! The correct answer, of course, is D. Veronica Mars is fantastic, and she's the main reason why. And yet, this is almost unwatchable. Bad lip-synching. And who picked these songs? Who the hell gets to say Fame and Green Acres had the best theme songs in the first place? (What would I pick instead? Joey Scarbury's "Believe It Or Not," of course!)

Ha! Chris O'Donnell and Rachel Bilson get stuck with the suckiest job of the night, presenting... other presenters! They introduce the winners of Guest Actor and Actress in a Comedy, Bobby Cannavale and Kathryn Joosten. Who then present Best Directing for Something Something. Some guy named "Bucky" wins for the XXVIII Olympiad. There's a hilariously awkward moment, where Cannavale can't figure out how to say "XXVIII." And then they present the awards for Best Writing for Etc., which I love. The filmed bits each show prepares to announce their writing staff are always a crack-up. The clip from Conan O'Brien wins this year, hands down. But they don't win the Emmy -- The Daily Show does, as is only fair and right. Hey, maybe the Emmys aren't so bad after all!

Then Doris Roberts wins, and brings her fucking grandkids onstage, and I have to take another break.

Part 3.

Tom gives up on the Emmys -- Part 1

So, I'm watching the Emmys. They're tape-delayed on the West Coast, you know. By 27 hours. Weird, but true.

Anyway, it's not very good, is it? Earth, Wind & Fire are singing new and supposedly funny lyrics to one of their old songs. Man, if you're gonna pull that kind of shit, why don't you just hire Weird Al and be done with it? At least then it'd have a good forty, forty-five percent chance of actually being funny.

Then they go into the audience, which, as Krusty the Clown has rightly said, is death. But then Marg Helgenberger gets up and shakes her groove thing and all is forgiven. Smokin' hot, that one is.

Ellen Degeneres comes out, and she seems a little rusty, a little off. Most of her bit is fairly mediocre, but she's always so darn likeable. I like the "North Korean People's Choice Awards" joke, and her laughing suggestion that she should host the Oscars is no joke to me. Damn right, she should. Anything to keep that godawful Whoopi Goldberg away from them. She's awful. She's just awful. I don't care for her, is what I'm saying. Awful!

The four Desperate Housewives (plus Nicolette Sheridan, who, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, will not be ignored) come out, and even though Teri Hatcher's Groucho-like delivery of the alleged punchline is tremendously lame, I still think she's adorable just for gamely committing to it. Teri Hatcher has a very large buffer zone of adorability. Then Felicity Huffman says, regarding the failed joke, "Clunk!" and it makes me glad that, if Housewives had to win an award, wrongly placed as it is in the Comedy category, at least it was Felicity. She rocks.

Brad Garrett wins the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmy for the 87th time. Hey, remember the '80s? Remember when John Larroquette won four straight Emmys in this very category, for Night Court? Do you know what he did? For the rest of the show's run, he withdrew his name from eligibility. He refused to accept another nomination, because he felt someone else should have a chance. That requires an awful lot of class. I don't know why I thought of that right now, Brad. Good riddance to you. (And David Hyde Pierce before him.)

By the way, the proper winner of this category: if you must go sentimental, give it to Peter Boyle, who has never won. (For Raymond; he did win an Emmy as Guest Star in the greatest X-Files episode ever, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose.") If you want to give it to the actual best actor, well, it's a tough call between Jeremy Piven and Jeffrey Tambor, but I think I'd have given it to Piven. As good as Tambor is, Piven is, like, 90% of the reason Entourage works. Without him, the show wouldn't be anywhere near the success it is.

Ellen does another bit from the audience, with Eva Longoria. It's kind of funny, but I wish the stage people would just stay on the stage. Then Kevin Bacon's wife and Jack Bauer come out to present Best Supporting Actor in a Drama. They don't attempt a joke, bless their hearts.

The Shat wins. William Shatner! For the second year in a row! It's a funny world. Every stand-up comedian in the country has made a joke about the Shat's acting style, and he wins back-to-back freakin' Emmys. Felicity Huffman's gonna win for Comedy, when she should be nominated in the Drama category, and the Shat wins in Drama, when he should be in Comedy. Yep, it's a funny old world.

Then Ellen introduces the whole "Emmy Idol" thing, which is the lamest idea for an awards show since Rob Lowe sang with Snow White at the Oscars. And who is up first but -- Donald Trump!

That's it! I'm outta here! I quit. I give up on the Emmys. I'm calling a halt to it right now. I can not watch a single more minute of this.

Without drinking a beer. Or three. Be back later...

Part 2.

TV: Head Cases

Mostly harmless.

Head Cases continues the trend this season of determined mediocrity. Nothing I've seen so far has stood out as especially good, and nothing so far has been truly awful (although The War at Home comes closest).

Head Cases stars Robin as a young attorney on the fast track to a partnership at his law firm, who suffers from a sudden nervous breakdown, precipitated in part by his wife locking him out of his house. I'm sure there's a backlog of complaints his wife must hold against him, but all we see him do in this episode is miss a meeting with a therapist for his son, due to a big court case. So his wife comes off as kind of a heartless bitch here, and it's hard to tell if that's intentional or not, since it seems like the series is heading for a reconciliation between the two of them.

Anyway, he goes off the deep end, and gets checked into a "Wellness Center". Four months later, he's ready for release, but there's a catch: he has to mentor another recently-released patient, the much crazier Adam Goldberg. Do they clash at the beginning? Do they grudgingly help each other out? Do they become partners in a new law firm by the end of the episode? You'll have to watch the show to find out! (Or if you've ever seen any TV show ever, you could probably just make an educated guess.)

Goldberg is crazy in a much more flamboyantly scene-stealing kind of way. He's jittery, a fast talker, prone to inappropriate verbal outbursts and sudden fits of wacky violence. It's all very Ally McBeal. But I like Goldberg a lot, and I was happy to watch him ham it up.

Robin, on the other hand, is, and always has been, a blank slate. He looks like, and acts like, a generic acting mannequin (model #7A: boyishly handsome). I've never seen him do anything that couldn't be done by literally any other actor in Hollywood. He is a bland performer who makes bland choices. Which probably means he's perfectly suited to television -- especially mediocre television like this.

There are a couple of laughs throughout; Goldberg delivers to a certain degree on the comedy half of the dramedy equation. But O'Donnell's (there, I said his real name, are you happy?) mental illness and personal problems are meant to be taken much more seriously. And I just didn't care at all about him, his wife, or his grubby little kid. I say dump the family and beef up the role of O'Donnell's secretary from his old law firm, bring her over to the new firm, turn her into the new love interest. (Although it looks like she's not even coming back next episode, so that might be a problem.) I'll probably watch one more episode, because Richard Kind is being added to the cast, and he's very good at being a funny oddball, but the only reason I'd ever tune in again would be because it's on Fridays, and there's not much competition. As with much of this year's new programming, Head Cases is a default program, not an intentional destination.

TV: One quick thought

I think I'm glad I didn't watch the Emmys live (or almost live on the West Coast) last night, because it just would've made me angry. Going over the list of winners this morning, I have to say I don't think one awards show has ever been so completely wrong in every category. James Spader over Ian McShane? That's the most blatant awards injustice since Ordinary People beat Raging Bull for the Best Picture Oscar.

Oh, man, it's just ridiculous. More awards for those damn Everybody Loves Raymond people. Another one for Tony Shalhoub. Another one for the Shat. It's not that I hate all -- or any -- of those people. It's just that they were so clearly undeserving in their categories. It's just a mockery. The voters aren't even trying to pretend they've got an ounce of awareness. What won last year? Ah, give it to 'em again. I don't have time to actually watch all the shows. Deadwood? Never heard of it! Jeremy Piven? Who's that? Hey, how about that very tall fellow with the deep voice from that Raymond show? Whenever he wins, he always tells jokes just like the ones they used to tell in the Catskills 40 years ago. I like that. It makes me feel warm and safe. Let's vote for him again!

Bah, I say! Bah, bug and hum! And just wait till you see how irritated I get after I actually watch the show!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

TV: Okay, never mind

Welp, you can disregard the previous entry. I'm about to head out for the evening, so I'll be skipping the Emmys liveblogging after all this year. I know, I know, I'm as heartbroken about it as you are. Try to get through it on your own. You might even want to try making your own jokes about the goings-on. Although I would not recommend it with less than a liter of alcohol in your system. It's serious work, people! Don't underprepare!

I'm still TiVoing the show, so I'll be sure to have something to say about it later in the week. Because really, is there anything people like better than an untimely review of an awards program?

Friday, September 16, 2005

TV: Countdown to Emmy liveblogging

Before I got sidetracked, what I was trying to post was a reminder that this Sunday, the 57th annual Emmy Awards will air. Which means we will also be seeing my 2nd annual Emmy Awards liveblogging extravaganza. (Well, as live as it gets, considering that, despite the fact that the show takes place in L.A., the broadcast will be tape delayed to us West Coasters. And, considering that my version of liveblogging consists of pausing the TiVo whenever I think of something oh-so-witty to write, running into the other room to type it up on the computer, and running back to the TV when I'm done. Which is a little less than live, but it still beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.)

My epic coverage of last year's Emmys brought a lot of new recognition to this then fairly new blog. And I think I've cemented my reputation as "that crazy son of a bitch who pays way too much attention to awards shows" with my ensuing Oscars and Golden Globes spectaculars. It's a lot of work, but honestly, I can't wait. So don't forget to tune in to both events! Reading my blog while watching the show is the next best thing to having an actual drunken, obnoxious loudmouth right in your own living room!

META: Blogger sucks. Again.

Allow me to register a complaint about the new search bar function at the top of this blog. Blogger has screwed up a perfectly good, Google-powered search function by ditching Google and trying to create their own, infinitely shitty search engine. Now, instead of searching my own blog for key words, like it used to, and like I want it to, it returns a list of everything but my fucking blog.

God DAMN it!! So frustrating! And it's not like I'm accidentally pressing the "Search All Blogs" button -- I'm using the "Search This Blog" button. Not like there's a difference; they both return the same results. Neither of which have anything from MY blog! AAARRRRGGGHHH!!!

Okay -- now it's really pissing me off. I just searched for "tom the dog" -- and this blog is not on the list. (Not on the first ten pages of it, anyway, which is where I gave up.) Other blogs that have linked to me come up, but not this actual fucking blog fucking written by Tom the fucking Dog. (Although Tom's Corn Dog Emporium!! is my favorite-named near miss.)

Try Google! Try "tom the dog" on Google! You don't even need to put it in quotation marks! Try it, and what comes up as the top link? ME! I do! This blog! The one written by Tom the Dog!! Tom the Dog is the top Google result for tom the dog!! But not on Blogger's search machine. Oh, heaven forfend. I don't even fucking exist according to Blogger's search. "Tom the Dog n'existe pas," that's what Blogger says. (I'm imagining Blogger to be a snotty Frenchman right now.)

Is it just me? Have any of you other Blogspot bloggers ceased to be?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

COMICS: All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder

The second issue of Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder also came out yesterday. Both Dorian and Mike are prepared for people being angered by this comic. In fact, they appear to relish the idea. "Someone, somewhere, at this very moment, is having a heart attack over how Batman is portrayed," says Mike, who also notes how funny he found "Frank Miller's hearty 'screw you' to the fans who want their Batman deadly serious." Dorian says, "I was starting to think comics bloggers had run out of things to argue about," and adds that Mike "kept pointing out pages and dialogue he was certain were going to anger people unreasonably." (Whether it's unreasonable to be angered by an intentional "screw you" from the writer is a whole 'nother can of worms.)

Well, I'm proud to say that I have confounded them both! Oh yes. After I bought and thoroughly disliked the first issue, I made what has to be an almost unprecedented action in comics fandom:

I DIDN'T BUY THE NEXT ISSUE!

You heard me! I'm not bluffing! I didn't buy it, and I'm not gonna! Put that in your pipe and mail it home to grandma! (I have no idea what that means.)

Dorian and Mike surely are both right that many people won't care for this second issue -- but how many of those people still bought it, despite also not liking the first one? Tons, I'd wager. Tonnes, even. Scads. Hordes. Legions. A plethora. More than one, anyway.

And here am I, an island of unreasonable reason. I didn't like a comic, so I stopped buying it. What a concept! How many other people were compelled to buy it, knowing they wouldn't like it? (All the same ones who bought Grant Morrison's X-Men and hated every issue, perhaps?) How many comics have I bought, despite not liking them? Too many, answer to both questions.

But no more! Don't like it, don't buy it, that's my new motto. Hell, it helped me whittle down my Bendis comics habit to only Powers -- that's about 80 bucks saved every month right there!

COMICS: Wed. 9/14/05

I only got two comics yesterday, Daredevil vs. Punisher and Fables. Here are my reviews:

Daredevil vs. Punisher was pretty good.

Fables was pretty good.

Insight like that is why they pay me the big bucks!

Okay, what else can I say? I think David Lapham thinks the story of D vs. P is really about the young kid with the gun and his restaurant-running family, with some incidental superhero action filling things out. But that's the part of the story that loses me. I'm not interested in the kid or whether his family gets whacked by Mafia goons. I just want to see Daredevil and Punisher punching each other in the head. Is that so wrong? Fortunately, there's a lot of that kind of stuff happening this issue, too. So, Frank shoots an innocent bystander during their fight, and is paralyzed with guilt over it. Has that really never happened in a Punisher comic before? That dude's luckier with his collateral damage record than the Hulk.

And Fables wraps up the very entertaining Adversary storyline. The resolution was kind of abrupt, but sets up Pinocchio and Red Riding Hood in interesting situations. But though Boy Blue's adventures were very good, I'm ready to see Bigby and Snow return to center stage. (Whether that's the next story or not, I have no idea. I'm just saying I'm ready for it.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

TV: Supernatural

Supernatural is one of the less awful pilots I've seen so far this season; certainly it's better than The War at Home or Reunion. And yet, I'm far less likely to watch another episode of Supernatural than those other two shows.

I think it's the bland competence that makes it such an inessential show for me. It basically does its job of being a teen-skewing X-Files ripoff. It has some suitably creepy moments, it has a couple of genuinely decent scares (especially the fiery tragedies that bookend the episode), it has a slick, modern style that doesn't devolve into MTV-type idiocy (which in itself is a great triumph, considering hackmeister McG is one of the executive producers). But as technically well-made as it may be, it's just not very interesting.

Part of the problem, of course, is the two leads. Jared Padalecki, who plays ghost-hunter Sam, comes to Supernatural from Gilmore Girls, where he played kind of a wimpy stud -- the James Dean-esque tough guy who was wrapped around the finger of his girlfriend Rory. He plays pretty much the same character here, but is far less interesting. Jensen Ackles, who plays Sam's older brother Dean, comes from the last season of Smallville, where he played Lana's tool boyfriend (who eventually turned evil). In this show, he's far more interesting; he plays things much lighter, and has fun wisecracking and getting down and dirty at the service of the silly ghost story plot. But I still can't help being prejudiced against him from his awful run on Smallville.

In time, I might change my feelings toward him, but I don't think I'm going to give him that time. The show isn't awful -- as I said, it's fairly well-made -- but it's just not something I need in my TV diet. A spooky show with Teen Scream heartthrobs just doesn't hold any attraction for me. I wouldn't actively discourage anyone from watching it, but I can't find myself encouraging anyone to watch it, either. It's just not for me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

TV: Bones

Ah, my first police procedural of the year! It's Bones, and while the police procedural genre is not generally my cup of TV (I don't watch any of the CSIs, Law & Orders, or, now that I think about it, any cop shows at all outside of The Shield), I liked this first episode purely on the strength of the two lead characters.

The lead actors, David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, I couldn't help but notice, share a split-level title credit. You know, like Ted Danson and Shelley Long in Cheers, or Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams on Laverne & Shirley:

DAVID BOREANAZ








EMILY DESCHANEL

You don't see that a lot. It's one of those things I notice. Another symptom of too much TV.

Anyway, Boreanaz I liked just fine on Angel, and I like him just fine here, too. He's FBI agent Seeley (Seeley?) Booth, who finds that a case he's working requires the assistance of forensic anthropologist Temperance (Temperance??) Brennan, played by Deschanel. I don't recall ever seeing this Deschanel before, but I'm more than familiar with her sister, Zooey Deschanel, whom, as I may have hinted at previously, I love. Emily shares a similar beauty with Zooey, as well as her immediate easy charm. Her character is a bit of an oddball, focused on her work to the point of being completely inept at normal human interaction, but Deschanel's performance still allows you to connect with her, making her personality flaws adorable and winning rather than off-putting and irritating, as they so easily could have seemed. I especially enjoyed her cluelessness when confronted with pop culture references. "We'll be Mulder and Scully," Boreanaz tells her, inviting her to be his partner. "I don't know what that means," she replies. The two of them make for a very cute screen team.

Bones (the title, by the way, comes from Boreanaz's nickname for Deschanel) is, according to the Fox website, "inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist and best-selling novelist Kathy Reichs." Which makes Temperance seem like Reichs' personal Mary Sue: she's a crime-solver, an expert marksman with a pistol, a formidable martial artist, and a best-selling author -- plus, she can really rock a tank top, if you know what I mean. (I mean she's got big ol' boobs, frequently and lovingly framed by the camera.) It's a little much for one character. Deschanel's charms save it, though, even if at times they have to emerge in spite of the script.

Speaking of which: the writing is at times heavy-handed and clunky (how many times does Temperance need to be told she has to open up more to people? Fifty? Sixty?), and at other times a little too vague -- I never felt any reason to care about the episode's victim, her family, or her possible murderers. The show stays pretty well centered on Boreanaz and Deschanel, which isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's more concerned with the investigators and the mechanics of solving the crime than the crime itself.

And the crime-solving part is often laughable. First of all, Temperance's anthropology/crime lab has the most ludicrous piece of equipment I've ever seen on a non-sci-fi show: a giant hologram machine, which can not only project the skeletal remains of victims in full-size 3-D, it can not only recreate the exact image of the person before death -- it can even create a full motion cinematic interpretation of the person's murder. In hologram! Every anthropology department should have one! It's so unbelievably ridiculous, I still can't believe they actually used it. It felt like I was watching Admiral Ackbar plan an assault on the Death Star.

And the way the criminal is captured is equally silly. First of all, the clue leading to the bad guy is as subtle as an anvil. One of the suspects dismissively says of another, "The only thing he cares about are his tropical fish." Hmm, what an odd thing to say, completely out of nowhere. You think those fish might just turn out to be significant? Then, Temperance decides to go after the guy on her own. When she gets to his house, and finds him about to destroy the evidence, she smashes in his window, enters his home without a warrant, and then, when he threatens to burn the evidence, she whips out a gun and shoots him in the leg. She's a goddam anthropologist!! Number one, I find it pretty unlikely this case will hold up in court. And secondly... you know, I took a couple anthro classes in college. And I'll tell you what: the anthropology department is not full of a bunch of Indiana Joneses. I understand they want to present Temperance as a formidable character, but having her busting into places and shooting bad guys -- it's lame, it's just lame.

All that said, I still think I'll be catching at least another episode or two of this show. Again, it's all due to the strong leads. Deschanel and Boreanaz are very likeable, and together they have strong chemistry. They're a lot of fun (as is Michaela Conlin as Temperance's high-spirited assistant Angela), which is immediately enough to make Bones stand out from most other crime shows on TV. It's flawed, but I'm not ready to dismiss it just yet.

TV: Fall 2005 TV Reviews

I'm going to be trying to review every single new show from the broadcast networks for the 2005-2006 season. Why? Because I'm just that crazy. Every show except the reality shows -- I'm not that crazy. Also, I'll be skipping Ghost Whisperer, too, because there's only so much crap I can tolerate.

Here's a list of all the shows scheduled to debut this year (as provided by Laurel's TV Picks). As they air, and as I review them, I'll link to my reviews from here. This entry should stay at the top of my page for a while, if I do the postdating thing correctly. And if I don't get irritated with seeing it at the top of my page every day.

[EDIT: This post is now un-postdated, and the shows have been added to the sidebar to the right. Where hopefully I will be able to live with them.]

[EDIT 2/1/06: The shows are now off the sidebar, with only a link to this post remaining.]

ABC

Commander-in-Chief
Freddie
Hot Properties
Invasion
Night Stalker

CBS

Close to Home
Criminal Minds (free pass)
Ghost Whisperer (eliminated due to moral objections -- no, really!)
How I Met Your Mother
Out of Practice
Threshold

Fox

Bones
Head Cases
Killer Instinct
Kitchen Confidential
Prison Break
Reunion (Part 2)
The War at Home

NBC

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (no reality shows!)
E-Ring
Inconceivable
My Name Is Earl
Surface
Three Wishes (no reality shows!)

UPN

Everybody Hates Chris
Love, Inc.
Sex, Love & Secrets

WB

Just Legal
Related
Supernatural
Twins

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